Textiles of Nomadic Communities of Ladakh

in Module
Published on: 02 November 2018

Monisha Ahmed

Monisha Ahmed is co-founder and Executive Director of the Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation, Leh, her work largely focuses on art practices and material culture in Ladakh. Her doctoral degree from Oxford University developed into the book 'Living Fabric – Weaving among the Nomads of Ladakh Himalaya' (2002), which received the Textile Society of America’s R L Shep award in 2003 for best book in the field of ethnic textile studies. She has co-edited 'Ladakh – Culture at the Crossroads' (Marg Publications, 2005), collaborated on 'Pashmina – The Kashmir Shawl and Beyond' (Marg Publications 2009 and 2017), and published several articles on the textile arts of the Himalayan World, including four in The Encyclopaedia of World Dress and Fashion (Berg Publishers, 2010). She has published on textiles in other areas of India, including a chapter on textiles for 'The Arts and Interiors of Rashtrapati Bhavan – Lutyens and Beyond' (2016) and a catalogue 'Woven Treasures – Textiles from the Jasleen Dhamija Collection' (2016). More recently she was advisor for the Bhau Daji Lad Museum’s online exhibit 'We Wear Culture' for the Google Cultural Institute. She was Associate Editor of Marg Publications from 2010-16.

Ladakh has a highly varied textile tradition that reflects its physical, socio-economic and cultural environment. Communities in Ladakh believe that the tradition of weaving is an ancient craft and they talk of a time before the weaving of cloth when their ancestors wore clothes made from animal skins, straw and the bark of trees. Later, they learnt how to spin and weave their own clothes. This module provides a historic overview of the traditional weaving practices and nomadic textiles from the Ladakh Himalayas. It also consists of an allied article that delves into the trading practices of Himalayan wool and the infamous pashmina fibre, followed by a photo essay on textile production among the nomadic pastoralists of Ladakh, and finally a short film detailing livestock rearing in the Changthang Ladakh Himalayas.


This module is in collaboration with the Ladakh Arts and Media Organization (LAMO).