Last month we had the opportunity to introduce photographer Ayan Biswas to the community of Kharnak. We have always been wanting to take back our textiles to their source and finally could do so. Here we are presenting four of our products, worn by the locals - the people who sold us the wool - and share more about them, their lifestyle and beliefs. We hope you enjoy this!
For Dolma Angmo it is essential to pray every day.
Since this summer on request of a holy monk, every night one person of each household attends a praying session in the community hall of the camp.
To the people of Kharnak prayer is important as they are often facing challenges regarding extreme weather and they find motivation in reciting prayers. These are Buddhist teachings dedicated to various gods and of course, Lord Buddha.
Dolma Angmo is wearing our Scarf Nyima made from 100% lambswool.
Choldan is stitching a saddle bag which he has woven many years ago. He is preparing for a trip with two other shepherds to take animals to Leh to the slaughter.
Besides their wool, also selling the older animals for meat is an important source of income for the nomads. Choldan and the other shepherds will be walking for a week until reaching Leh, crossing the Taglang La Pass at an altitude of 5300m.
Choldan is wearing our scarf Khullu made from 100% handspun yak wool.
Sonam Lamo, a young member of the community and shepherdess is spinning wool on our Pherri carpet made from yak wool and sheep wool.
In Kharnak culture, this textile is used as a blanket for the cold nights, even during the summer.
Winter is approaching with temperatures down to -35C at night.
In the background is the autumn camp where the community is staying for another two weeks before shifting to the winter camp.
Sonam Lamo is sitting on our Pherri Carpet Yak Wool and wearing our Scarf Deep Indigo.
It is the last few times of taking out the animals to the mountains before Paljor takes the final move to Leh to settle down this winter.
He is now in his late fifties but is struggling with knee problems and living a life as a shepherd just gets more difficult with age.
Since the 1980s Kharnak has experienced a wave of migration to the urban area of Leh, resulting in the shrinkage of the population from once more than 100 families to now 14 families.
The commitment of the remaining villagers is remarkable.
Paljor is wearing our scarf Lungspo made from 100% handspun lambswool.
Angtak takes the family turn of taking the yaks to the mountains. As the community is small, there is a model of taking the yaks of the entire village grazing by one shepherd. This is rotating so it is easier for each family to handle the animals.
The yaks are taken separately as they do not have to walk up as high as the goats and sheep. It is around 400 yaks of all the villagers which are guided by the shepherd. In the morning time, the families release their yaks and by the evening once the shepherd returns, the yaks independently go to their respective families.
Angtak is wearing our Scarf Zampa, made from lambswool, yak wool and eri silk.