Traditional Skilled Arts


Yak and wool saddle bag

Traditionally, Khampa nomads rarely visited market towns, and even items available in town were limited. The nomads were mostly self-sufficient, trading their yak-butter only for Tibetan barley (tsampa) from the farmers, for tea, and for salt.   Other items for household use were made by hand – everything from leather tsampa storage bags; to bladders used to store and preserve butter; to flints for fire-starting; to saddle bags; to blankets; to clothing; to the tents in which they lived.   Some items, like ladels, pots, jewelry, and some wool felt items could be made only by a few grassland craftsmen, and they sold their wares to all comers.

Current times have given the nomads a much larger choice of buyable items in market towns.  Cheap Chinese household items have flooded in, and given nomads choices that make many of their traditional handmade items obsolete – they are labor-intensive and hard to justify, given these alternatives.

However, most traditional items are still made, in reduced quantities.  Khampa nomads are generally both aesthetically- and traditionally-minded people, and they prefer a colorful hand-woven yak-hair drying cloth to a cheap plastic tarp.   They use the tarps because they are cheap and easily available, but weave cloths whenever they have time.

The items on these pages are all traditionally made for personal use.  We can request nomads from within our network to make these items for you, and ship them to you.   Please contact us for pricing and seasonal availability! We also stock a variety of such items for immediate purchase.  Please see our store for currently available items.