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Orenburg shawl


The Orenburg Shawl (or wedding ring shawl) is a finely knit lace-shawl made with down-hair of Orenburg goat and a base thread (usually cotton or silk). Orebnurg shawl is one of the classic symbols of Russian handicraft, along with Tula Samovar, Matrioshka, Khohloma painting, Gzel,  Palekh, Vologda lace, Dymkovo toys, Rostov finift (enamel), and Ural malachite. Other symbols include balalaika musical instrument, navy striped t-shirt, ushanka hat, a bear, valenki boots

The finely knit Russian hanidcraft originated in the Orenburg area about 250 years ago, in the 18th century. Orenburg shawl was first introduced to the audience in 1857 and gained high accolades.

The fleece to make shawls is taken from Orenburg goats, and this is one of the thinnest fleece fibers in the world. Angora goat is a similar breed to Orenburg goat, and Angora fleece –  which is called Mohair, is 22-24 microns in diametre, whereas Orenburg goat fleece fiber is 16-18 microns! The fine quality of Orenburg fleece can be explaind by frosty winters and blizzards, typical of Orenburg area, as well as goats diet – vegetation of mountain steppes of the Urals.
Orenburg Russianwedding ring goat

Interestingly enough that the attemps to breed Orenburg goats elsewhere failed. The French attempts to breed the goat in France in XIX were unsuccesful, the goats turned into usual goats with thick coarse fleece due to the soft climate of France.

There are several types of Orenburg shawl

  •  fleece shawl — grey (sometimes white) thick and warm shawls.  Such shalws are worn as a casual everyday element of outfit. You feel cold at home or in the office – this shawl will keep your back and shoulders warm for sure.
  • lace Orenburg shawl (pautinka, wedding ring shawl) – this is a lace goat fleece shawl made from goat fleece and shawl. Such lace shawl is worn for celebrations. It is very fine and it is not recommened to put a jacket over it – take it in a small bag and put it over you shoulders when you have arrived at your destination point. This accessoire to your party dress will undoubtedly make you stand out! make
  • stole shawl  —  thin lace Orenburg shawl but slightly narrower. Also worn as an expensive and formal accessoire.

Stamp with Orenburg shawl pattern

Pautinka (паутинка, En. cobwed) and stole shawls are very thin shawls with a complicated pattern and are worn as an acessoire or jewelry. These shawls will suit any dress.  Pautinkas usually have 2/3 of fleece and 1/3 of silk. Silk increases the strength of the shawl. The shawl knit in the traditional fashion is so fine that it can be pulled through a wedding ring, hence the popular name in the Western world.

Handmade pautinkas have unique pattern and is an original piece of art. A good knitter can knit two kerchiefs – pautinkas (“spider lines”) of medium size or three tippets a month.Each shawl presents a picture of the Universe the way the knitter imagines it. Because of the high cost of down hair and yarn, an original hand-made Orenburg shawl or kerchief is an expensive item. This would be a great present or accessoire.

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