In Persian, ‘Shahtoosh’ means ‘King of Wools’–a perfect description for an ultra fine wool that’s softer than either Angora, Pashmina and Cashmere.
Shahtoosh shawls are so incredibly lightweight that they can be passed through an average sized finger ring, hence their common name, ‘Ring Shawls’. The reason they’re so light is because each hair of the Tibetan Antelope is around 6 times thinner than the average human hair. That’s a very fine hair!
Each shahtoosh shawl requires about 350 grams of wool. Being as each Tibetan Antelope yields no more than 125 – 150 grams, it takes the wood of three animals to make just one shawl.
You may be wondering why there’s so much fuss about shahtoosh shawls. We take the wool of plenty of other animals, after all.
That’s true, but the Tibetan Antelope is different.
In order to collect the fine hairs, these beautiful animals have to be slaughtered. Yes, that’s right. Where we sheer or comb other animals in order to harvest their wool, the hairs of the Tibetan Antelope need to be individually plucked from the skin.
Just imagine, three animals are killed for every shahtoosh shawl sold!
Once popular amongst celebrities to either drape around their shoulders when wearing expensive ballgowns to glamorous events–or even to swaddle their newborns in–shahtoosh shawls were once the epitome of celebrity luxury.
Luckily, more and more high profile celebrities have realized that wearing a shahtoosh shawl is harmful to their reputation. Some have even joined campaigns against the sale of these shawls.
But that doesn’t mean people aren’t still wearing them.
Even though the trade of shahtoosh is illegal in most countries, retailers continue to offer shawls in high-end boutiques throughout the world. The Internet sees its share of the trade, too.
Those inquiring about the origin of the wool are told stories of ‘shy mountain goats’ that rub themselves against trees and shrubs, leaving their wool behind. Because only small amounts of wool can be harvested in this way, the price is high. If only those customers knew just how high the price is!
Of course, some do know but don’t care. The human desire for luxury often gets in the way of what’s right and proper. As long as people are willing to feed their selfish attitudes, the trade in shahtoosh shawls will continue… but only for as long as the Tibetan Antelope exists.
Poachers kill around 20,000 Tibetan Antelope every year, many of which are pregnant females moving with their flock to their preferred birthing grounds.
With fewer than 75,000 animals left, the Tibetan Antelope is facing a very real threat of extinction–for the sake of fashion.
No matter how wealthy you are, if you buy a shahtoosh shawl you’ll be the reason why three of these beautiful animals lost their lives. Only a total boycott can stop this trade.
If you care about the fate of the creatures we share our planet with, report anybody found to be trading in shahtoosh. A quick call to your local police station is all it takes.