Ladakh Pashmina, Yak and Sheepwool
Pashmina and Yak wool are deeply interwoven with the history and culture of Ladakh. The raw pashmina fibre comes largely from the Changthang region of Eastern Ladakh, which represents the western extension of the Tibetan plateau, an important high altitude grazing ecosystem. The rangelands are used by Changpa pastoralists for livestock grazing. Ladakh Pashmina is a rare and one of the most expensive hair fibre, owing to its limited availability. It’s obtained from the soft, downy, winter undercoat of the domesticated goat breeds of the subspecies– Capra aegagrus hircus. But, only the Changthangi breed found in Ladakh and Baltistan (Kashmir) produce the rare Pashmina fibre. With an average fibre diameter between 12.3-13 μm its fineness is comparable with Vicuña wool (12-14 μm), which is the finest and currently the most expensive wool in the world. Pashmina, while being the softest and finest of all Ladakhi luxury natural fibres, is the most difficult to spin. The challenge to make the material yield to one’s wishes is truly exciting. Spinning pashmina is akin to spinning wisps of clouds!
Yak wool is being hailed as the ‘Next Cashmere’. Its average fibre diameter of 16-20 μm and softness is closer to that of cashmere (15-19 μm) but it is rarer than it. Its true potential is yet to be harnessed in the region and is literally the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ of Ladakh. Makes you want it more, right?
Sheep wool of Ladakh is the softest of all indigenous wools of India. Plus it’s a versatile material, excellent for utilitarian as well as high end apparel. Traditionally it has been widely used in Ladakhi gonchas.