Tranquil Bhutan & its Magnificent Yak

Tranquil Bhutan and its Magnificent Yak

Bhutan is home to an around 39,000 yaks, according to the country’s livestock census of 2013. Found primarily in the high altitude rangelands of Bhutan’s northern belt, long-haired and large-horned yak represent a unique way of life for the pastoralist communities which live across this remote region.

 

Yak bhutan


 
On the practical front, these magnificent creatures (which can grow to a hefty 600 kilograms) provide the means for these communities to survive. Their manure is used as fuel for fires; their milk is turned into cheese and butter (which, when dried or fermented, can be stored for the harsh winter months) and their hair is turned into clothes, blankets, tents and rope. Yak can be used as currency too with surplus milk or dung or hair being traded for salt, rice, tools, housing, and other essentials.
 
But the relationship between the yak and the communities they live with goes deeper than the practical. Yak – or bos grunniens to give them their scientific name - are also at the heart of cultural and spiritual life, the subject of songs, dance, indigenous dress, jewellery, folklore, rites, beliefs, celebrations and oral histories. On festive occasions, they are dressed in beautifully coloured handmade textiles and intricate embellishments. In Bhutan, yaks symbolise a sense of community, compassion, kindness, inter-connectedness with nature and other sentient beings, and a wise and deeper meaning of happiness, contentment, belonging and continuity.

Yak bhutan

 

Our holiday to Bhutan Land of the Thunder Dragon sets off on 13th October. It is an immersion in tranquillity at the top of the world, as a couple who travelled there with us last month discovered. "Bhutan is very calm with lovely people and no ad hoardings," they told us. "It is a beautiful country. We arrived at one monastery during prayers which was awe-inspiring."