"KHPPT has taken up the task to stipulate acceptable standards for traditional handmade techniques for weaving pashmina shawls..."
"Kashmir Handmade Pashmina Promotion Trust (KHPPT), came into existence in 2005 when the use of shahtoosh (undercoat of the Tibetan antelope, chiru) was banned owing to conservation issues, for the antelope was killed for the fiber," says Fayaz Ahmad Mir, spokesperson and General Secretary of the organization. "This ban affected the livelihood of Kashmiri weavers who used to process this fiber with a 700 year-old traditional handcrafted procedure used for the famous shahtoosh shawls. Though they were working with both shahtoosh as well as pashmina fiber to weave shawls, scarves, etc., shahtoosh generated twice the income compared to pashmina. With the shahtoosh ban, there were less job opportunities for weavers, who saw their livelihoods and living conditions deteriorating.
"Since Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) was a partner organization in the campaign for the shahtoosh ban, they took it upon themselves to organize these artisans into a non-government organization, KHPPT, to represent them at different platforms to voice for their rights and privileges. The members of Kashmir Handmade Pashmina Promotion Trust pledge to work with only pashmina wool, and struggle for the betterment of the artisans irrespective of their affiliation with KHPPT.
"Presently the Board of Trustees is the decision-making body of KHPPT along with the Chairman Mr. Ghulam Hassan Hafiz. The trustees are mainly artisans and have been elected by local based groups. Usually the production is planned according to demand of targeted markets and artisans themselves share the production cost and contribute donations to carry out the administrative and other activities from the profit they make from the sale of their products. The decisions are unanimous for the selection of designs and type of products that is mostly based on the previous year's exhibitions and client feedback.
"The main objective of the organization, besides promoting the interests of the crafts people involved in making pashmina shawls, is to protect the 700 year-old handicraft from the threats and challenges posed by mechanization of production processes and selling of fake pashmina in the market. We have a Geographical Indication (G I) Patent for the pashmina we use. KHPPT is also a partner in the implementing body of the G I Pashmina Patent.
"We are making efforts in organizing these artisans while making them aware of their rights and privileges, as well as their responsibilities. We intend to create a model marketing unit so that each artisan becomes a small-time entrepreneur. And though we did obtain good success for the first three years, the recession has badly affected our progress.
"KHPPT has taken up the task to stipulate acceptable standards for traditional handmade techniques for weaving pashmina shawls, while also appointing the appellation body that will administrate and be responsible for quality control of the products. To accomplish this purpose we organize training programs and workshops.
"Besides helping artisans to participate in the exhibitions, we're sharing the profits with them by providing them with better wages than the local system in order to empower them.
"Our range of products includes all hand-spun and hand-woven pashmina shawls and scarves. Pashmina is made from the raw fiber (fleece) of a central Asian mountain goat called Capra Hircus or changra, from Ladakh J&K, Tibet, China, and Mongolia. The color of these goats varies from white to fawn to quite dark beige. The changra goat is never sheared nor is the wool cut, but rather it is gently combed and cut, ensuring that the fiber length is at least 5 cm long. It is processed, cleaned, carded, spun and woven in Srinagar through traditional processes developed over 700 years ago. In fact, the Ain-i-akbari (which was an account of the Akbar's court written by Abu Fazl in the late 16th century) indicates clearly enough that the Kashmir shawl industry was already a well-established one.
"We have made a film about our project, which was awarded Vatavarun Award in 2009. We are sure the conscientious Novica customer will appreciate the worth of a true Pashmina."