Himalayan Blankets and Shawls from the Gaddi Tribe
Network Member Paul Strangroom produces stunning artwork celebrating the local scenery and industry and recently he went on a trip back to the Himalayas. We wanted to find out more...
"I've been visiting people in this welcoming Himalayan community since living there in the 1980s and have now decided to sell blankets and shawls on their behalf from my Prudhoe gallery.
I buy from one extended family in a small village, Noli, in the Dhualadhar region, who weave traditional designs from simple looms at home – not unlike clan tartans, I always think. Blankets and shawls are made from sheep the people have reared and wool they've spun, cleaned and woven themselves.
Gaddi tribes were nomadic - now they settle in villages, but they still move with their livestock to pastures in upper hills during summer and to the foothills in chilly winters. The Gaddi use blankets for bedding, protection, and even as emergency makeshift tents when they're living in the hills with their sheep. The Noli villagers sell the woolen goods they create to live - an important supplement to their farming income. It was great to catch up with old friends I haven't seen for a number of years. Their hospitality was second to none.
One large blanket takes two months to weave and I spent some time in their homes, seeing them work and even trying a little weaving myself (which I was absolutely useless at!). I've been visiting this region for many years and the warmth, generosity and hospitality of the local people has been very humbling. It is a tough, but beautiful region. The blankets are large and very strong and warm - perfect for summer picnics, bedding and wrapping yourself up in when it's breezy or cold. Gaddi people have great stamina, walking for miles in the hills with heavy loads on their backs, and visiting them involved lengthy trekking. Spending time with them again gave me an even deeper respect for these people, who survive in such tough conditions, yet are so gracious.
Gaddi men and women use their shawls to protect their heads and bodies in cold weather. In this country, these strong shawls are also warm enough to serve as small picnic blankets, or to wrap around yourself as you sit outside on summer evenings when the sun goes down."