My name is April Tang from Taiwan. I am the co-founder of SHANGDROK, a workshop I founded with my Tibetan partner in a Tibetan village in 2015, hiring half a dozen local women producing hand-spun yarns and handmade felts.
In my early years of travelling to the Tibetan plateau, I was taken to visit my Tibetan friend’s home on the highland, and was given a piece of fabric that they use for their tent home as a gift.
I was so moved by this plain, coarse yet vibrant handwoven fabric. The fibers came from yaks that they herd, along with their milk, meat, skin and even dung, providing a nomad family everything they need to survive on the plateau. Yak is the centerpiece in any Tibetan’s life.
Every Tibetan women spun, wove and felt not that long ago. However, due to the influence of the modern lifestyle and market, not many people still do so nowadays. The traditional skills are gradually dying.
This is why we started SHANGDROK. We hope to keep these traditions alive while providing job opportunities in ways and materials that they are most familiar with to the local yak-less nomad women, who can stay close to their family in their own village. Meanwhile we wish to connect them to the outside world, knowing what they created is highly valued so that they can be proud of themselves and their cultural heritage.