The women keeping a Cossack tradition alive

Handmade Orenburg shawls are highly sought after in Russia
Handmade Orenburg shawls are highly sought after in Russia   -   Copyright  vladimirvasil/Getty Images/iStockphoto
By Katy Dartford

The Orenburg downy shawl has been made by Russia’s Cossack women for centuries and is highly sought after in Russia and across the world.

Made from a fine mix of silk and goat yarn, Orenburg shawls are known for their fine knit.

"Everybody in my family knitted. My mother, my grandmother, my grandmother's sister all would knit outside," says downy shawls knitter, Rosa Gumerova.

The knitting industry is a source of employment for many local women, but their traditional production is under threat as more factories automate production.

"This is still mostly handwork, and everything depends on the person, on me. I make sure I do everything carefully. I need to make sure the machine works well."

The demand for local handicrafts remains high in Russia, so as long as these artisans continue to create high-quality handmade products, the Orenburg downy shawl will continue to exist.

Video editor • Thomas Duthois