Chang-pa & Changthangi

For centuries, Changthangi goat farming has been provided by Changpa nomadic shepherds, whose tents are scattered throughout Ladakh at altitudes ranging from 3,600 to 4,500 m.

The Changpa community is about 9,000 individuals, divided into 14 groups.

Each group is made up of a number of families ranging from 20 to 176. Their livestock is made up of sheep, pashmina goats (changthangi), yaks and horses.

Of Buddhist confession, the Chang-pa belong to the Tibetan Drukpa school.

The Chang-pa firmly believe in the sacred origin of their flocks, conferred on them by the gods.

As a result, they live to the rhythm of their livestock and the nature around them.

Thus, they change their camp 8 to 10 times a year, each move taking place when pasture and water resources are depleted in the occupied area.

Inside the camp, the position and orientation of the tents follows a specific order. Each tent is positioned with the east side entrance for two reasons: first, it would be inconceivable for these shepherds to orient the tent in a direction other than that of the sunrise; secondly, the westerlies being the most violent, it would be ill-advised to face this direction.

At night, the cattle are gathered in a circle, with the Changthangi goat in the center, and the rest of the cattle outside as a "shield" against the cold.

The pastures of Ladakh are at altitudes ranging from 4,000 to 5,600 m.

Chang-pa have a well-organized allocation system, which prevents over-grazing of certain areas.

Shortly after birth, Changthangi males are castrated, with the exception of animals selected for breeding purposes. The main criterion in the selection of these is the color of the pashm, the preference is given to white.

The pashm harvest begins in June and usually ends the first week of August. The pashm is gently taken by hand using combs with rounded tips. The amount of pashm taken is about 200/250 g on a female and 300/500 g on a male. These figures refer to the raw product, uncleaned of its impurities (secretions, hair, soil, leaves, grass ....) which will be sold in the state to the artisans of Kashmir. The net amount of pashm after cleaning is estimated by them to be about 35% of the initial weight.