Gazelles are a familiar site in Ritoma. They come closest to humans in winter, when they follow the herds of yak and sheep to the winter areas close to Ritoma’s main village. Camouflaged by the brownish yellow pasture, they can pass unnoticed from a distance, though their white posteriors stand out, and can be seen bouncing about across the grassland. Then they might appear outlined on the top of a hill, or show up in groups around sunset to drink from the river. The most populated gazelle area in Ritoma is known as the Valley of Wolves.
Aware of how much nomads have to struggle for securing sufficient feeding areas for their flocks, I always wondered how the gazelle population was viewed; as competitors? Good will seemed in the order of the day, when encountering many a gazelle fawn living with a nomad family, its mother eaten by a wolf or having succumbed to the winter cold. It lives as a family pet until being let loose when old enough to rejoin the herd.
When questioning nomads, though, the mention of gazelles is met with a shrug, a neighbor to bear with, though their population is kept in check by wolves. Perhaps if the wolves are satisfied feeding on the gazelles, they may leave the sheep and keep their peace with humans, a peace that would extend to the gazelle’s presence and contribute to maintain the unique ecosystem of the Tibetan Plateau.
The Gazelles inspired Norlha to create Spring tops and dresses, hoping to capture the bearing, grace and delicate hues of our elegant neighbor.