The windswept plains of Changthang, southeastern Ladakh, is home to the pastoral nomadic Changpas who roam the high-altitude rangelands with their herds of yaks, goats and sheep in search of fresh pastures. Following age old seasonal migration routes, their lives are intricately woven into the very landscape they call home.
An initiative to create sustainable rural livelihoods focusing on the traditional weaving skills held by Changpa women was launched by Jungwa Foundation in 2018. Our weaving initiative focuses on locally produced sheep wool (bal) from the Changluk breed and the skill of nomadic women weaving on the portable back strap loom (sked thags). Wool is sourced directly from small herd owners in Korzok. The wool is handspun by women using traditional wooden spindles (phang). The warp is then laid (thag – rancis) by winding the yarn around a series of pegs after which it is transferred to the loom. Our weavers employ a simple tabby weaving technique to weave the textile which is then tailored and finished off as table runners, rugs, cushion covers and a range of bags.
To expand the network of spinners and weavers, a training workshop was organised in Korzok in the summer of 2023. Participants brought a variety of saddle bags, tent wall covers, and storage bags from their rebo which triggered a lively discussion on traditional motifs. The program is continuing to extend the network of women and create dignified livelihoods based on existing, inherent skills.