Rope made of yak hair

Contributed by Judith Philipson

Rope made of yak hair

This rope of yak hair, nearly 6m (20ft) long was hand woven by Afghan people from the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. I received it for Christmas 2009 from my son Chris Philipson. He bought it from one of the locals during a mountaineering expedition in the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan and paid extra for the carved attachment hook as wood is scarce in the region.
The rope has an unusual double plaited appearance. However it is light in weight and has a homely animal and smokey smell. It has been used to secure the nomads' belongings onto the yaks - the pack animals in the valleys of the Wakhan. When the yurts are re-assembled in a new location, ropes like this one are then used to lash the felt roof and walls onto the yurt framework. I wonder if maybe my rope is the same as those used hundreds of years ago when people like Marco Polo travelled the silk road to China along these harsh mountain tracks. Ropes are essential items for travel and trade and are precious to people in remote areas. My son said that any scraps of yak hair were saved to plait ropes or for weaving

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Afghanistan, Wakhan Corridor

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