Lhagang (Tagong)

Unko, Genup

Lhagang is a town in Kangding county, situated on high treeless grasslands.  The surrounding grassland is populated by nomads in various clans, also known as villages.  Lhagang has no sheep, because it is too high, and so there are only yaks and horses on the high hills around town.  The nomads around Lhagang are particularly wild and passionate, and are well known as such around Kham.  The Lhagang area is known for its tasty yak butter and yogurt, as well as for its high quality yak hair.

We work with artists from four clan areas near Lhagang town:  Shamalong, Genup, Reseer, and Raleh.  These are all nomadic herder clans.

Shamalong artists are organized into a large group.  Altogether, about 40 artists are involved, and they work together to make items.  They have impressive creativity.  We get in touch with them by calling a teacher at the elementary school in Lhagang town, who passes on the message by word of mouth.  Shamalong is only an hour walk from Lhagang, so getting messages and items passed along doesn’t tend to be a big problem.  Shamalong has received grant money to organize themselves, and so most of the items we sell are made there.

Genup is a two-hour walk from Lhagang.  Genup has just a few involved families, with a total of six spinners, weavers, sewers, and leatherworkers.  We get in touch with people in Genup by either going there ourselves, or by waiting for them to contact us.  The items made in Genup include black yak hair roll cloth, and satchels and saddle bags made of black yakhair cloth with bright colors woven into them.

Reseer is just over the hill from Genup.  There is a young man there named Gangtok who is the main money-earner for his family of four younger siblings and his mother.  He happens to be a very skilled leatherworker and sewer, and also possesses a strong sense of aesthetics and quality.  He would like to train five fellow villagers in basic sewing, and to set up a simple workshop in the slow times of year.

The Raleh clan is one of the most traditional clans in the Lhagang area, and they dress particularly ornately.  They also grow their hair long.  At the monastery there are several monks who make bell and bowl covers covered with leather.

Click here to view Lhagang product photos and place & people photos.