Meet Our Artisans

Artisan: Ge-ru-chuo

“I used to be a nomad, we had more than 300 yaks in our family. To milk the cow, I needed to get up at 3 am in the morning and the milking would continue all the way to the afternoon, and there were no time for me to have breakfast. But over the years we lost all the yaks, so I needed to do all sort of part-time jobs to support my family.” “I’ve always loved sewing, knitting, spinning…, so to be able to work here in Shangdrok really is the most fun time of my life. Compare to pasture works, felt-making and yarn-spinning are not harsh at all. The only time I feel utterly upset at my job is when I made an un-qualified product. Poor khu-le, ouch!”

Artisan: Juo-ma

“I used to be a nomad. Now all my yaks are given to my two sons, who both live in the tents on the field. I live by myself at home in the village, and I have heart problems. After I attended the felt-making training workshop in 2014, I continued to make felt hats at home. A year after that, I was hired to work here in Shangdrok, and I’m happy to work again and be surrounded by many friends. People in Shangdrok said that I’m like “Sha Monk” (沙悟淨) in "Journey to the West" (西遊記), because I eat the least but work the fastest.”

Artisan: Chie-Boo

"I’ve seen the elderly making felt when I was little, and I enjoy watching them doing different traditional crafts. I remember once when I was still a little girl, I was watching my neighboring grandpa making felt, he saw me so fascinated by the craft and said to me: ”Maybe that’s what you did in your last life time!”

I used to be a seamstress in a Tibetan robe shop in town. Back then when the time was good, I got paid well, no matter how was the business. But after a few years, the business did not improve and so they told me that there is no job for me anymore.

Now I work here at Shangdrok, I can felt, braid, sew and knit. I’m not a fast worker, because I like to do things carefully. And I got nervous a lot every time I learn new things, worrying that I cannot learn it well, or work too slowly. But despite my slowness, there’s one kind of plait that only me know how to braid, so when I came up with that complicated pattern and show it to everybody, they were all very surprised and praised me for that! " 

Artisan: Kan-Tsuo

"I was born in a nomad family, and I have a mother and a sister, then I married to my husband. We had around thirty yaks when we first got married, but later on my husband broke his legs in a motorcycle accident. So we sold all the yaks to pay for his surgery. But we didn’t feel much pity, since what happened had happened.

Now I work in the workshop and I love my colleagues here a lot. We work together every day, even so, we’ll use wechat to chat at night! And from time to time we’ll go to each other’s place to have some fun for the whole night. But I’ve always missed the days when we were in the field. So if one day we could have our yaks back, I’d like to be a nomad again! But at that time, I suppose I’ll come back to visit my friends here in the workshop very often."

Artisan: Ge-Boo

"I started spinning, weaving and making tents since I was 14. But later after I got married, we have no more yaks and I stopped doing any of them. 

Since I came to this workshop, I started to spin again.But not like before that we spin the yarns thin and tight, they now ask me to spin the yarns thick and loosely. Also, I need to learn to write my name, the code number of the products, including some strange symbols (she means English letters)."

(Though sometimes her letters are still unrecognizable, she has not given up and continued to do her best job in every writing opportunity.)

Manager: Yi-Shi

"I grew up in the field. When I was a kid, me and my brothers would stealthily pick up some yak down fiber when the calves were lashed on the rope, waiting their moms to be milked. If Mom saw us doing it, she would scold us badly. But my grandmom was always on our side- she would secretly slip more yak wool to us so we can take it to town to sell or exchange for some apples or snacks before heading back to school. At that young age, I did wonder what could be made from these fibers?

After I grew up, I’ve always wanted to be a school teacher, I love kids. I’ve never thought that I would become the manager of the workshop. When the aunties have been working repeatedly and had sore backs and arms, I would bring a football to the workshop so they can exercise. They are also very easy to get tired and might even fall into asleep during work, then sometimes I would tell them a joke, or simply shout next to them so hard that scare the hell out of them. When that happen, they would say to me: thank you, thank you!"