INSIDE ISSUE 104: YACKETY - YAK
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YACKETY - YAK
High Fibre from the Roof of the World
By promoting traditional crafts that utilize luxurious animal fibres of the Tibetan Plateau, a handful of entrepreneurs are helping support the nomadic way of life there. Most textile geeks know that there is nothing softer or warmer than the fluffy undercoat of down shed each Spring by mountain animals in high-altitude regions. Ironically, the animals’ adaptation to the adverse conditions of these areas yield the finest fibres –think of the alpacas and vicuñas of Peru, and the Arctic musk ox. Likewise, the Pashmina goats, baby yaks and mountain sheep found on the high Tibetan pastures produce some of the lowestmicron fibres in the world. For centuries, the nomadic lifestyle of herders, who closely follow the rhythm of the seasons, has been a constant in this fabled area, and continues today–despite political uprest, technological advancement, and climate change. The abundant natural resources and cultural richness of the region–which includes some of the world’s highest mountains, precious mineral deposits, lush grasslands, and pristine lakes, and whose valleys host the sources of Asia’s major rivers–made it highly desirable to its neighbour to the north and east, China, who annexed Tibet in 1950. Although the Chinese often refer to the area as Xizang or ‘Western Treasure House’, population influx and development threaten both the region’s indigenous culture and rich textile heritage....