About the yak
The yak is the main bovine on the Tibetan plateau. A heavily built horned animal with a bulky frame, sturdy legs, and rounded cloven hooves, the yak is characterized by long shaggy hair that hangs down below its belly and a dense down-like undercoat. The domestic yak or Bos Grunniens (grunting ox) is a direct descendant of the much larger wild yak, Bos Mutus, (mute ox), now an endangered species found mainly in the Norther plains of Central Tibet. The yak has adapted to high altitudes and thrives at 3000 meters and above. There are presently 13 million yaks on the Tibetan Plateau and beyond, into Mongolia, Eastern Russian, the Himalayan regions and parts of Central Asia.
The female yak, or dri, gives birth once a year following a gestation of 9 months, to a single calf, around March. A female yak is milked twice a day and her mild is very rich though maximum yield is 1.5 liters per day.
Yaks are free ranging. The herders follow them in a transhumance pattern between Spring, summer autumn and winter pasture. Yaks contribute to maintain the delicate ecosystem; they graze on a high variety of flora, fertilizing the land which their manure, and spreading the seeds with their hooves.
What is yak khullu?
Yak khullu is a the soft under down that the yak grows in the fall and sheds in late spring. Soft and extremely warm, it insulates the yak from the extreme cold.
Khullu is a fiber of many virtues, one of which is durability. This comes from the natural quality of the fiber which yields from a careful selection from thousands of animals across the Tibetan Plateau and the natural processing of the fiber. The result is a textile that retains its shape, resists pilling and will last long enough to be passed on to the next generation.
Norlha carefully sources its khullu, seeking out the softest, the baby yak’s first molt. Baby yaks, called yeko, are born at the end of winter covered in a soft layer of down they will discard at the beginning of their second summer. This khullu is of exceptional quality and can come detached in a single piece if collected as it comes loose.
Khullu is the warm layer of down-like fiber that grows below the yak’s characteristic black hair to protect it from the extreme winters of the Tibetan Plateau. Norlha collects the best fiber, which is processed naturally and never bleached, retaining all its bounce and insulating properties
Yak are neither clipped or combed for their fiber and animals are never deprived of their natural protection. Khullu is a molt, and if not gathered on time, it naturally falls, lost to everyone. Khullu begins to loosen in June, leaving a narrow window for collection, which is done by prying the loosening fiber.
Natural Khullu Colors
Brown Khullu; the dominant color; it lends it's dark hue to the herd from a distance
Rarer than brown, counts about 10% in a herd. An observant eye can spot grey yaks among their darker companions.
White comes from the albino yak, the rarest of all