The cashmere harvested from ChangRa* (or Changthangi) goats raised by the semi- nomadic ChangPa** on the Changthang Plateau of Ladakh in Northern India is called “layna”. Supporting genuine cashmere production in predominantly mountainous countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan, Ladakh/Northern India helps safeguarding traditional handicraft and culture.
* Pashmina goats of India see:
** Photographs see:
One of the finest cashmere in the world
With a fiber diameter of 12 to 14 microns corresponding to 0.012 to 0.014mm, Ladakhi cashmere (Layna) is one of the finest cashmere in the world. Each year, about 30 to 40 tons of layna are harvested, representing only 0.5% of the cashmere globally produced. Layla is scoured and dehaired by the All Changthangi Pashmina Growers Association in Leh/Ladakh. Pure Layna is then sold to traders (90%) but rarely used by individuals (10%) to weave fabrics made of 100% layla cashmere.
As it was custom in the past, raw Layna is still also sold by the ChangPa directly to traders from Srinagar/Kashmir who provide it to families specialized for hundreds of years on scouring, dehairing, carding, spinning and weaving the layla – all by hand, and at an incredible quality.
The ChangPa*** are one of the last semi-nomadic ethnic groups who struggle to survive in a resources poor and rather hostile environment (on the Changthang Plateau). They endure a tough life without any romantics. Presently at about 7 000 people, their number decreases rapidly, and sooner or later they will be reduced to a tourist attraction. Today, not only does the importance of traditional nomadic societies diminish everywhere in the world, nomadic life itself literally disappears.
In order to enhance the skill of ChangPa women in spinning and weaving layna, a Cashmere Craft Center**** has been built in Pangong/Ladakh giving some 80 women the opportunity to spin and weave layna throughout the winter. I am supporting the operation and maintenance of the Cashmere Craft Center through the proceeds of the sale of Layna shawls.
**** see www.pangongcraftcenter.com