If we talk about Orenburg shawls, one of the most common beliefs is that an authentic Orenburg downy shawl passes through a wedding ring. Is this a misconception or a real guarantee of quality? It would be better to say that this criterion used to be justified, indeed, but nowadays it has practically lost its importance and is not an authenticity marker. Why?
First, let's turn to history. Don-knitting - and the Orenburg shawl itself - originated in the Orenburg region in the mid-19th century. Now we can form an opinion about this epoch only if we turn to historical accounts, literature and films. And, if you remember the description of the girls who lived back then, you might remember that the standards of beauty are significantly different from those accepted today. Yes, we are talking about the fact that curvy women were "in fashion", especially with the elite. And lightweight a-jour scarves and gossamer shawls were favored by the ladies visiting receptions and soirees. They considered Orenburg downy shawl an accessory, a luxurious element to complement the look, rather than a "means to stay warm", therefore, very dense and large shawls were not very popular.
And here we are getting to the second point: the Orenburg downy shawl is a rather collective concept (generic term). When you hear someone say "shawl" in their small talk, you know they could mean either a dense shawl or a lightweight a-jour scarf. Still, both these items could be knitted in the Orenburg region from the down hair of Orenburg goats - and this criterion is decisive when we want to figure out whether these items are authentic or not. That said, knitters' skills improve year after year and the range of manufactured products is expanding; the standards change as well; as a result, the distinctive criteria change, too, and some of them lose their relevance over time, even though they are historically true.
So, can one really state that if a product does not pass through a wedding ring it cannot be considered an authentic Orenburg downy shawl? Of course not. Again, considering a wide variety of downy products today, we should say that now it will be difficult to slide even an a-jour shawl through the wedding ring of a slim lady whose fingers are small and thin - which is today considered the standard of female beauty by the majority of men. Not to mention large densely-knitted shawls - even attempting to perform such a trick will be useless. Let's say an item is made from down hair of legendary Orenburg goats, it is hand-knitted by a skilled worker who got her experience and knowledge from previous generations of knitters - yet the item doesn't pass this "traditional test." Will it be right to call this shawl an Orenburg shawl? Of course.