British photographer Andrew Newey has documented the lives of the Changpa nomads in Kashmir, inspecting the threats to their Pashmina wool manufacturing.
Andrew Newey spent two weeks with the Changpa nomads in freezing situations in Ladakh, in Indian-administered Kashmir.
To accompany his photograph collection, Newey additionally realized about the historical past of Pashmina wool manufacturing, and the threats to the nomadic shepherds’ lifestyle and traditions.
He explains in his personal phrases: “At an altitude of greater than 14,000ft, the place winter temperatures can fall to -40 levels Celsius, it’s laborious to imagine anybody or something can survive in this huge ice desert that’s the Changthang Plateau.
“Situated between the Himalayan and Karakorum mountain ranges, it’s the highest completely inhabited plateau in the world, and residential to a particularly hardy and uncommon breed of goat – the Changra, or Pashmina goat.
“The excessive altitude, freezing temperatures and harsh bitter winds in this unforgiving mountainous area are important to stimulate the development of the goats’ super-soft undercoat.
“The fibres measure a mere eight to 10 microns in width, making it round 10 occasions finer than human hair and eight occasions hotter than sheep wool.
“This luxurious fibre is understood the world over as Pashmina, the softest and costliest sort of Cashmere wool in the world.
“For centuries the Changpa nomads, who themselves are as hardy as their animals, have roamed ‘the roof of the world’, shifting their herds of yak, sheep and goats alongside conventional migratory routes in this excessive altitude desert each few months, in search of contemporary grazing pastures.
“This historical lifestyle is now very a lot beneath menace from local weather change, faux Pashmina imports from China, the want for higher training and the want merely for a neater and extra snug life.
“The nomads and scientists alike are adamant that local weather change is the largest menace to Pashmina manufacturing in the area.
“The Changthang plateau doesn’t normally get a lot snowfall, and if it does, it begins in January or February.
“However, for the previous couple of years it has been more and more heavy, beginning as early as December, even November.
“As a consequence, meals dietary supplements must be introduced in to forestall the animals dying from hunger. Also, the winters have been getting hotter, which has lowered the high quality and amount of the worthwhile Pashmina wool.
“Cashmere is pricey, and rightly so. The Changpa rigorously comb the hair throughout the spring moulting season to reap the downy undercoat, after which the good fibre is laboriously separated from the unhealthy by hand.
“Once the fibres are manually sorted, cleaned and hand-spun, the weaving course of can start, which is equally demanding and painstaking.
“It takes a number of months to a yr for extremely expert artisans to work their magic on picket looms and weave a masterpiece which will likely be exported round the world, promoting for between £150 ($200) and £1,500 ($2,000) by luxurious retailers.
“Another subject of concern is the growing variety of snow leopards in the area, placing their animals at growing threat of assault. This is a results of the profitable conservation efforts over the final decade.
“The menace to Pashmina goat-rearing would imply the finish of the livelihoods of about 300,000 folks in the Jammu and Kashmir state who, straight or not directly, rely on Pashmina.
“It would additionally imply an finish to the distinctive tradition of the Changpas; most of them are followers of Tibetan Buddhism, and have an elaborate set of customs centred round their livestock.”