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Yak ox - Nhambe yarn


Yak is a species of ox from the mountainous regions of Tibet. There are two races: the wild yak, generally black, which is found near the snow line, descending into the valleys in winter, and a domesticated race of various colors, black and white being most common. The yak is about the size of the common ox, to which it has a general resemblance, but it is covered with a thick coat of long, silky hair, hanging down like the fleece of a sheep, completely investing the tail, and forming a lengthy fringe along the shoulders, flanks, and thighs. This fringe, which exists in both races, was apparently developed as a protection to the animal, as the long hair forms a sort of mat which defends the body from the effects of the cold when the animal is reposing in the snow. The domesticated race is of great importance to the natives of Tibet. The yak is employed as a beast of burden, but never for tillage or draught; the milk is very rich, and yields excellent butter; the flesh is of the finest quality, and that of the calves far superior to ordinary veal. The hair is spun into ropes, and made into coverings for tents, and the soft fur ,Nhambe, of the hump and withers is woven into a fine strong cloth.



Boy with yak


Yaks provide three kinds of hair. All are used by nomads in their daily life, for various purposes. The coarsest is belly hair, and is used to make tent fabric and cushions for yak-saddles. The medium-grade is from the sides and back of the yak, and is used to make saddlebags, storage covers, and blankets. The softest grade – Nhambe - is from the neck of the yak. It is very soft and has been likened to cashmere. All these three types are used in weavings. The weaving process is the same for all, but the other processes differ. The finest, softest variety requires a fine spin and also hard-working in a hot spring. Yak hair is mostly black, though there is always some amount of white and gray hair, also.


Women do fiber work. Women are in charge of carding, spinning, and weaving. They work on these projects in their spare time, and sometimes even when they are doing something else. On the high grasslands, you might see a nomad woman striding across the grasslands in search of her yaks, spinning as she walks, the stick with finished yarn on it floating up and down beside her like an extra-large yoyo.






Nhambe yak fiber is soft and smooth with wonderful hand. It exists in several colors, including shades of gray, brown, black and white. The mean length of yak fiber is about 1.2 inches with a fiber fineness of 15-22 microns. It is a splendid downy fiber similar to that of the camel.


I buy the handspun Nhambe yarn directly from nomad women, it is made the traditional way.


The handspun yarn is sold as “Nhambe” handspun yak yarn




Yak calf and little girl.



My wool comes from this cooperative: Chyoger treks and Khampa arts 

Arnica Lykkegaard
Tattoqeqarfik 6 B, 3911 Sisimiut, Grønland
cell: 00299 58 01 01, mail:
cvr: 28927509