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Yaks for haute couture

2013-11-20 09:15:24

(China Daily) By Lin Qi


A woman works on a loom at the Norlha workshop.Photo provided to China Daily

Kim Yeshi had studied anthropology and Buddhism at university and spent 30 years in Asia researching local culture, with particular interests in textiles and handicrafts.

"People always talk about the cashmere as the precious wool, and camel wool. Although the yak also has wool, it had never been tested," the mother says.

"I thought it would be compelling to turn the yak wool into a new vision of life for the nomads."

When Dechen first arrived in Zorge Ritoma in 2004. She spoke to many young nomads, and they all wanted to be a part of the world outside, and "that fitted in with my mother's idea".

She decided that it made more sense to help that way.

"Making documentaries meant a lot to me but not as much to them."

She returned the next year with her brother Genam and they collected and shipped two tons of khullu to a textile factory in Kathmandu owned by her mother's friend. The end product was soft and warm and had a very good feel.

Inspired, the Yeshis founded Norlha, a social enterprise for yak wool production, and they started to look for villagers willing to participate in the project. "Norlha" means "wealth of the God" and is also what Tibetan nomads call the yak.

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