Yaks are large, generally domesticated wild bovid hailing from the very high altitude Tibetan plateaux flanking the Himalayas. The thick shaggy coats, which provide protection from the severe winter climate–temperatures that go below 20ºC, and that’s without the wind chill factor, is as good for insulating homes as yaks – so skins and rugs woven with moulted yak fleece have long been used both to cover the insides of Mongolian tents and to insulate between double tent skins.
Yak coats are very cleverly developed with a dense, short undercoat that they keep all year, and a thick, long haired overcoat that they grow in winter. This top coat is shed once the sun appears again in early summer, to be collected and prepared for spinning in much the same way as sheep’s Wool. As you’d expect, Yak fibre is very durable, strong and waterproof, and a valuable resource for the herding communities. As well as insulation material the fleece and skins are turned into coats, sleeping and meditation rugs, mats and blankets.
Fashion and ethically led companies such as Cosi have adapted the traditional nomadic yak rugs, retaining the age-old weaving techniques that imbue each rug with the spirit of the mountain weaver, while incorporating their own designs and colours.
And read ‘Karmas story’ on www.cosicompany.com