Mashru is a hand woven cloth found in the Indian subcontinent, and is thought to be an Indian innovation.
Primarily produced in Punjab, and western parts of India, it is a double-layered material with a thick cotton base and covered with an almost single stranded silken warp and woof. In its weaving, the loom brings the cotton yarn down and the silk fibers up.
Mashru is explicitly mentioned in the administrative document, the Ain-i-Akbari, of the 16th-century Mughal Empire. Historically, the wearing of pure silk, particularly next to the skin, was widely held to be an impious luxury for good Muslim men. Unlike pure silk, the blend was lawful. Hence, it was an acceptable and popular type of cloth among Muslim men in northern India and Pakistan, it’s name meaning “this is permitted”.
Mashru fabric is woven with a 7 to 12 peddle loom which requires the artisan to skillfully move their hands and feet in harmony. There are eighty threads in a mashroo per inch, which is much higher than in a standard woven textile. It is difficult for a weaver to create a piece which is both big in size and high in thread count, and so Mashroo is only available in a width of 58 centimetres. The pure silk once used to make Mashroo has sometimes been replaced by art silk, rayon and long staple cotton.
Today, traditional Mashru weaving is on the brink of extinction.The port town of Mandvi is at the center of Mashru legacy in Kachchh, Gujarat, creating luxurious bolts of the fabric that both Muslims and Hindus enjoy.