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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Russian Shawls: Pavlovo Posad or Orenburg?

Pavlovo Posad Wool Shawl
Orenburg Shawl from Russia
Wondering what’s the difference between shawls from Orenburg and Pavlovo Posad? Read on.

Russian Shawls: Pavlovo Posad and Orenburg 
Fashion changes. There have been numerous fashion trends throughout history, some being weird and others being nice and beautiful. Some are ultra modern and some have this retro chic. Fashion trends often disappear with time and very few have survived through the ages. Shawls are among those few lucky ones, and

Russian shawls are timeless.

The first place associated with shawls is called Kashmir. It is located in India and this is where famous
Kashmir shawls came from. In the 18th century shawls came to France. Napoleon’s first wife, Jos├ęphine
de Beauharnais, had around 400 shawls. She wore them on top of her dresses, used them as a cover,
and even as a rug for her dog. Very soon shawls became a fashionable wrap for the ladies of the English
and French elite.

At approximately the same time they started making shawls in Russia. At first Russian shawls were just
like the Indian ones in their design, but then the craftsmen started adapting them so they would look
more Russian.

Russian shawls became very popular after The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations
that took place in London in 1851.

There are two centers in Russia known worldwide for their shawls. One is Pavlovo Posad and the other is
Orenburg. They make excellent, yet very different shawls. Wondering what’s the difference? Then read
further.  :)

Pavlovo Posad

Pavlovo Posad is an ancient town not far from Moscow. They started producing woolen shawls in
Pavlovo Posad back in 1795 when Ivan Labsin founded his famous factory. His sons and later grandsons
took over his business after his death, thus the first printed shawls were made in the factory in the 19th
century. At that time Jakov, a great-grandson of Ivan Labzin, was running it. Since then the shawls made
in Pavlovo Posad have become so famous that they are often perceived as the national symbols of
Russia. While other textile factories in Russia have had to adapt to changing economy and move to
sources of cheaper labor, the demand for the unique shawls from the Pavlovo Posad Shawl Factory has
kept this factory in business for centuries!

These are only a few examples of the shawls you can find at The Russian Store. It’s impossible to get depressed when you are wearing something this beautiful and bright. Besides, Pavlovo Posad shawls are made of 100% wool, so their comfort and warmth really can’t be beat.

As you see, the prints are mostly floral. There are large flowers depicted usually in the corners of the shawls, and the middle is filled with smaller elements. The background is usually black or dark-cherry, or has the color of natural wool. The patterns can be arranged in ovals, stars, medallions, hearts and other figures.

When the shawl factory was originally opened all shawls were handmade so they were of very high
quality. But they were extremely expensive. At that time it took from 6 months to two years to make
just one shawl, so the factory could produce no more than 10-15 masterpieces a year. Then in the 19th century thanks to Jacquard looms the weaving process became easier, but the shawls were still way too
expensive for ordinary people.

It was in the early 1860s when the production of printed design shawls and kerchiefs finally started. At
that time it was made with the help of wooden planks. After the pattern design was developed by an artist the factory workers carved special wooden planks, each color in the design requiring a separate
plank. So, depending on the complexity of the design, the craftsmen used up to 400 planks with
different colors! The planks with paint were applied to the shawl and then beaten with a hammer in
order to better impregnate the paint.

Now the technology is absolutely different, but the artists still observe the traditional style of their
shawls. Years are passing by, but the popularity of these shawls is still growing! So you don’t have to
worry about them going out of fashion any time soon.


Compared to Pavlovo Posad, Orenburg is a huge city. It is located on the Ural River very far from
Moscow, almost on the border with Kazakhstan. It is pretty cold in this region, especially in winter, so it
was only natural that they started making these beautiful and extremely warm down shawls there.

Orenburg shawls have been around for three centuries. They are ultra soft and warm, so they are ideal
for any occasion. These shawls are made entirely by hand from downy wool of Orenburg goats which is
the finest in the world! In order to make the shawls feel like cashmere or mohair, the wool is mixed with
nylon or similar material. They started making those shawls in Orenburg back in the 18th century. In 1857 they were presented at the International Paris Exhibition and gained world-wide recognition.

Why only Orenburg goats? Because they have the finest down in the world. Being only 16-18
micrometers, it is thinner than the angora wool! That’s the prime reason why these shawls are so gentle
and soft. There were various attempts to export Orenburg goats to other regions and countries, but it
turned out that the quality of their down depends on the climatic conditions of the place they live in. In
any other places Orenburg goats would quickly degenerate as their down would become coarse and
thick. In the 18th and 19th centuries Orenburg wool was valued higher than Cashmere. The wool is still
one of the main items exported from this region to other countries.

In the 20th century, after the Revolution, the worldwide fame of the Orenburg shawls came to an end.
But in the Soviet Union the handicraft continued to develop. At that time the craftsmen first started
combining the wool of Orenburg and Volgograd goats, since the down of Volgograd goats was great for
knitting white shawls. Soon Orenburg Downy Shawl Plant appeared, which once again increased the
popularity of the handicraft. People from all parts of the USSR went to Orenburg in order to buy famous

There are several types of Orenburg shawls:

1. Ordinary downy shawls. Those are grey or white thick and warm kerchiefs.
2. Gossamers (cobweb-like kerchiefs, called “pautinkas”). These are especially delicate items made
of fine down and silk.
3. Tippets are thin scarves knitted the same way as gossamers.

Want your Orenburg shawl to last as long as possible?

These shawls are very durable. In fact, the more you use your shawl the more attractive it gets. But
there are some rules that will help you keep your shawl in good condition:

1. Use dry cleaning. Sometimes it can be washed in warm water with special washing powder for
2. Do not twist your shawl, dry it flat and keep it away from heat.

If you follow these simple rules, your shawl will last for a long time. It can even become a family treasure
passed from one generation to another.

Do you like these unique and stylish shawls? Then check out our impressive collection of kerchiefs and
shawls from Pavlovo Posad and Orenburg and choose the shawl you like best. Oh, did I tell you that it is
a superb gift, too?

You may want to also check these hand-picked posts out:

Russian Shawls from the famous Pavlovo Posad Shawl Factory - Discover more info on these wool shawls.
Orenburg Shawls at The Russian Store  - Learn more about these wedding ring shawls.
About Russian Shawls - Check out some scarf tying videos.

Written by Arina Anashkina for 

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