Shawl, a garment worn upon the shoulders or about the waist, and formed of wool, silk, hair, or cotton. The following are the principal varieties of shawls: those of Cashmere, woven in India or imitated in Europe, with the designs either embroidered upon the fabric, or by the more costly method worked into the web in the process of weaving, thus making both sides alike; crape shawls, made of silk in imitation of the Chinese fabrics; grenadines, made of silk of a peculiar twist; chenilles, of silk, often combined with cotton; chiné, made with a warp printed before weaving; barege, of wool, in imitation of shawls made by the peasantry at Baréges in the Pyrenees; woollen shawls of various kinds; and tartan plaids, made for centuries in Scotland. A description of the colors of tartans worn by the different clans in 1570 is extant. Their use was prohibited by act of parliament from 1747 to 1782; and they became fashionable from about 1828, and have so continued to some extent. The printing of shawl figures is done with blocks as in calico printing, and with the same elaborateness, as many as 100 blocks and 1,600 printings or applications being sometimes necessary for the production of a single pattern.
The manufacture of Cashmere shawls was introduced from India in 1784 at Norwich, England, with the imported Thibet wool, and afterward with Piedmont silk warp and fine worsted shoot, the designs being worked in by hand. In 1805 the shawls were there first completed entirely upon the loom. About the same time the manufacture was introduced in Paisley and Edinburgh, and is still continued at the former place of the Indian pattern with real Cashmere wool. In Paris the manufacture was begun in 1802, and led Jacquard to the invention of his loom. In England the principal shawl-printing establishment is at Crayford in Kent. In the United States, the business was begun at Lowell, Mass., but has since been established at several other places, and has been very greatly extended. (For statistics on the India shawl trade and other information, see Cashmere).