Yak Felt at Norlha

Felting is an ancient craft, a way of binding fibers to form fabrics and rugs for everyday use. It was highly developed among nomadic populations in Central Asia and the Caucasus where pieces over two thousand years old have been found. Among the nomads of Central Asia, felt, which is waterproof, provided shelter in the form of tents, clothing and rugs, many of which were intricately ornamented.

As in all nomadic communities, felting was a part of daily existence, and every woman learned to felt the wool they sheared from their sheep, making mats and boots, which they colorfully decorated. We were lucky that so many people in Ritoma were talented felters. Norlha put yak felting on the map in 2012.

Yak khullu is a short fiber, not considered suitable for felting or spinning. By adding modern equipment, we found that we could combine innovative technology and timeless know how in producing the first high quality yak felt. The life long experience of the Ritoma women with hand felting, coupled with their ingenuity, helped to create a quality of felt, soft and even, beyond anyone’s expectations which is now used to make fabrics and finished products.