In Kham, most folk art pieces are made not by one artist,
but by a group of people in a village, often a family.
The style of item varies by place and by maker.
Our worksites are all within the Kham cultural region, which generally coincides with the political entity called the Ganzi Tibetan
Autonomous Prefecture. Currently, we work with artists and
craftpeople from the following areas (listed by their Tibetan names,
with Chinese names given in parentheses).
Please click the links to read more and view photos on our information site: definitelynomadic.com
Tibetan Nomadic Herding Areas
• Lhagang (Tagong) is a town in Kangding county, situated on high treeless grasslands. The surrounding grassland is populated by nomads of various clans. Lhagang has no sheep, because it is too high, but only yaks and horses on the high hills around town. The nomads around Lhagang are well-known within Kham for being wild and passionate. The Lhagang area
is known for its tasty yak butter and yogurt, as well as for its high
quality yak hair.
• Zachika (Shiqu) means the source of the River Za, which becomes the Yangtze. A high grassland area, Zachika has nothing but herders, who keep yak, sheep, and a few high-altitude goats. Zachika town, in the valley, is at 4200 meters (13,780 feet).Because of the isolation and cold, the traditional arts of Zachika are strong. The people in Zachika are stylish, with the most striking traditional Tibetan clothing in Kham – the items are well-cut, carefully sewn, and made of high-quality cloth, as well as lambskin. Zachika is also a good place to find traditional items still in use -- flint and fungus fire starters, goat hide bellows, kid goat hide root collecting bags, and stone
Tibetan Mixed Herding & Farming Areas
• Dranggu (Luhuo), also known as the Hor States, is an area of Kham along the Northern Tibet Highway. It is a mixed farming/herding area, lower than other parts of Kham. The people of Dranggu make nambe cloth, which is a kind of fine-spun soft yak hair or wool cloth for clothing. They also are good tailors, and there is a small modern leather processing plant here. Much of our leather comes from this plant.
• Garze (Ganzi) is a county in northern Kham with a low verdant agricultural valley surrounded by high rocky mountains. Ganzi is home to a large monastery and one of only three Tibetan language high schools in all of Kham. Farms in Garze grow primarily barley (tsampa) and potatoes, and houses there are made of mud adobe with wooden beams.
Edge Tibetan Mixed Herding & Farming Areas
• Gyarong (Jintang & Danba) stretches generally along the Dadu River (in Tibetan called The Gyarong Princess River of Silver) through a narrow and deep valley. The various Gyarong peoples live in its numerous side valleys.Gyarong is a Tibetan word which means “Outside Valley.” The Gyarong Tibetans are both Tibetan and not-Tibetan. Some outsiders call them Qiang nationality. The “Pure Tibetans” of the high grasslands say that Danba people are not Tibetan but Gyarong, their own ethnic group. The Gyarong people themselves call themselves Tibetan. The women of Gyarong wear a special outfit with two embroidered aprons (front and back) over trousers, nice shirts, and a brightly embroidered head scarf. They are known for being very beautiful. The people generally claim to be Tibetan Buddhists, but many follow the Bon religion, which was popular in Tibet before the arrival of Buddhism.
• Jiga (South Daocheng County) is located deep in the southern mountain range which forms the border of Kham. It is a half-farming, half-herding area. The people follow Tibetan Buddhism, and consider themselves Tibetan, but they differ from their high grassland relatives in dress, foods, and some religious interpretations. There are numerous villages that make up the district, each with a low valley farming section and a higher mountain herding section. While waiting for the yaks during the day, the elderly women of the high mountains spin yak and goat hair, which is then woven by family members in the valleys. These elderly women do spinning finer than any other part of Kham that we have seen. This produces a
light, flexible weaving.
For information about our artisans, please see the
KHAMPA NOMAD ARTS COOPERATIVE
or go directly to
PLACES & ARTISTS