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Orenburg shawls

Even if you have never been to Russia before, you have certainly heard about Russian winters famous for its splendid snowy landscapes, severe frosts and heavy snowfalls. This time Moscow tour guide would like to introduce you to the history of Orenburg down shawl, one of the warmest Russian souvenirs, inspired by this beautiful season. This Russian headscarf, resembling window frostworks, will become a great souvenir for women, who appreciate handmade things. 

Wedding ring shawls


Orenburg down shawl (in Russian "Orenburgskyi Platok") is made of a special blend of silk and thin goat fiber. The latter is considered unrivalled in the world. This Russian headscarfs are also called "wedding ring shawls". In spite of the big size (210x210 centimeters) they can be pulled through a wedding ring. It is also believed that a fine Orenburg shawl can be easily placed into a small goose-egg shell. 
 

World fame


Orenburg down shawls have been known since the second part of the XVII century. But the first man who paid serious attention to the unique qualities of goat down hair was a Russian historian of Orenburg area Peter Rychkov. In 1766 he proposed to organize this knitting craft as a business. As an example illustrating his ideas he used a shawl made by his wife. The quality of the shawl was so fine that the woman received a gold medal and the first step to the mass production was done. Later, in the XIX century, some goat fiber shawls took part in the European contests.  The shawls were highly appreciated abroad, some foreigners made numerous attempts to transport Orenburg goats to Europe. Unfortunately all efforts were unsuccessful, the animals either didn't survive the voyage, or degenerated into ordinary goats with rough thick down hair.

Handmade production of Orenburg shawls is really time-comsuming. It consists of several stages. Firstly,  goats are carefully spined  to collect the down hair, then the fiber is handspun with the help of a spindle. After it the thread is plied against the special silk thread which is used to give additional strength to the workpiece. Then follows the process of knitting. It seems impossible to believe, but it takes about 200-250 hours. Finally the delicate laundry completes  the Orenburg down shawls production. Though nowadays some of the factories have special equipment to facilitate the work of women, such kind of Russian souvenir can be actually called priceless. 

If you want to learn more about Orenburg down shawls or buy such sort of souvenir for your friends and relatives, please turn to your Moscow tour guide for help.
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