Little Tibet

Ladakh is situated on the western slopes of the Himalayas and extends to the Karakorum Mountains, along the river Indus and is part of India’s State, Jammu & Kashmir. The deepest valleys are at 3,000 meters and the highest peaks at 7,000 meters. Little Tibet as it is also called due to its Tibetan Buddhist culture, has a long history and was once a kingdom. And in the course of history, the borders changed, it happened that the original Tibetan Changtang plateau now spread to several countries.

Ladakh map, © Holger Lindner & Peter van HamThis to the dismay of living there for thousands of years, the Changpa Nomads. The most significant factors influencing the culture and traditions of Ladakh are climate, isolation, and inaccessibility. These factors result in a highly practical culture. Ladakh is isolated from the outside world for much of the year because of extreme cold and harsh winter weather. By necessity, Ladakhis have developed traditions and techniques to make the most of their resources, under specific and extreme climatic conditions. Thus their traditions are based in an authenticity of need.

It is important to remember that Ladakhis are primarily spinning and weaving wool for their own use, occasionally for sale. The need for warmth makes spinning & weaving wool a necessary activity. Both the finished garment and the act of creating it are part of the identity of the Ladakhi. Women do all the spinning of sheep’s wool for clothing, and being a “spinner” is not separate from being a Ladakhi woman. It is one facet of her identity, as her other essential actions are: herding and farming.