So much luxury from such a little goat!
We can thank the Capra Hircus Laniger goat for giving us the incredibly soft, supple, sought-after fiber, cashmere. For over 10,000 years, this remarkable goat has been present in Central Asia, and is still thriving in the remote regions of the inhospitable uplands of Inner and Outer Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Iran. The extreme weather conditions and the scarcity of water and vegetation on this arid countryside have forced these particular goats to adapt and survive on very little. It’s OK. They like it.
The extreme changes in temperature between day and night as well as the brutal harsh winters (sometimes 45 degrees below zero!) require the goats to grow a unique coat, providing warmth and protection. The long course outer hairs are the guard hairs. The underfleece, the fine soft silky hairs, six times finer than human hair, is called the duvet, pashm, or cashmere. The colder the climate, the finer and warmer the undercoat.
In early spring when the goats moult, the Himalayan farmers comb the fine woolen undercoat from the neck and chest of goat, painstakingly separating the guard hairs from the sumptuous cashmere fibers. This de-hairing process is usually done mechanically but in some regions this process is still done by hand.