Kashmir shawls acquired an important place in the export market of the 18th and19th centuries and the craft of making the woollen shawls received patronage from Mughal kings. As mentioned in the Ain-i-Akbari, Akbar gave these shawls the name paramnaram, meaning ‘very soft’. It also gives an account of the Emperor’s great interest in Kashmir shawls and the measures he took to improve and develop this art.
Tuzuk -i-Jahangiri indicates that the shawl industry of Kashmir flourished during the period of Jahangir. Delicate, soft shawls were considered to be presentation articles. It also mentions that the shawl was a special prerogative of the king and others could wear it only if it was presented by the king or permitted by him. Besides these references, there are several foreigners like Forster and Moorcroft who have given detailed accounts of shawl weaving in Kashmir in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The present shawl is a very rare piece. Moorcroft describes this kind of shawl as alfidar, with a white field decorated with simple sprigs. The motia colour or off white base is decorated with elegant floral butis in blue, green and red all over. The borders are decorated with floral creeper designs in red, yellow and blue.