Changpa of Ladakh

Changpa of Ladakh

Last week I showed Stone Pastures, a film from 2008, about the Changpa nomads from Ladakh, and the amazingly hard life they live on the stony pastures on the high Tibetan plateau.

The film was bleak to say the least, a life of hardship, which is effectively controlled by the Indian traders who come once a year to buy their pashmina wool which is used in Kashmiri shawls and other fabrics.

The film today, which was made by the Anthropological Survey of India, again looks at the Changpa, but perhaps with a more hopeful outlook, as we see that the hardship of the life eventually brought new ways to survive.

One of which has been to organise themselves into cooperatives and get Government backed prices for their goods so that they are at least able to carry on their traditional lifestyles if they so chose.

Of course for a lot of families they do not so chose, as the lifestyle is so difficult, and there are now other opportunities for livelihood, particularly through migration to the capital Leh. An option many have taken.

Everywhere around the world we see that traditional societies are under pressures such as they haven’t faced before, and although it is worrying seeing their disintegration, one can hardly blame the peoples themselves when their lives have been so very hard.


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