10 Fascinating Facts about the Tibetan Yak


The Yak, whether domesticated or wild, is held as an icon revered by Tibetans. It’s among the many wonders in Tibet that represent the country, and the image of it that appears in people’s minds.  That’s because these buffalo-looking animals play an important role in Tibetan society, culture, and economy. Having stated that, we thought it would be great to bring you ten interesting facts about the Tibetan yak!

Fact # 1:  Yaks for transportation in Tibet

Traditionally, the Yaks have been used as a form of transportation within Tibet, thanks to their remarkable ability to support heavy weight. They play a huge part in making sure that goods, products, and other commodities are safely and securely transported over the Tibetan landscape. They have also been known to carry travellers on their journeys! 

Fact # 2:  Their fur is a great material for making garments

The Yak fur is called Kullu and is used in the production of many kinds of garments. That’s because the Yak wool can withstand even the heaviest, strongest, and unpredictable weather conditions in Tibet. It’s no wonder that Kullu is the favoured and commonly chosen material for making garments such as clothes, accessories, and other articles of clothing.

Fact # 3:  Did you know there is a famous festival centered around the Yak?

On the 15th day of the 8th month in the Tibetan calendar, the ‘Yak Festival’ is celebrated in Tibet.  Hundreds of people gather on this momentous occasion to watch Yaks dressed in clothes decorated with beads and flags. The Yak holds a special place in the agricultural sector of the Tibetan population, so it is attended by many people. During this festival, scriptures are recited, yak horns are played, and sometimes yaks are killed. 

Fact # 4:  Milk as a medicinal ingredient

The Yak milk in its raw state can and has been used for years as a medicinal component that helps to heal many bone as well as muscular diseases. The milk is so rich in calcium that many people drink it as a supplement to correct calcium deficiency. It is much higher in protein, casein, and fat content than cow’s milk! 

Fact # 5:  Yak as a popular delicacy

Yak meat is a traditional Tibetan delicacy enjoyed for its high nutritional content and tender-juicy texture. The meat is very low in fat and healthful, with a sweet but not overwhelming flavour.

Many people also choose Yak meat as an alternative to beef since it is leaner, has low cholesterol content, and only has a small amount of saturated fat.

Fact # 6:  Yak tails as a broom?

This might come as a bit of a shock to you but in many Tibetan homes, the tail of a Yak is used as a handy broom. The yak brooms can be found in some places as a cultural symbol. Not only are they used by Tibetan citizens but they are also employed by Himalayan shamans to draw out negative energies from a patient.

Fact # 7:  Yak dung as a substitute for coal

Did you know that Tibetan households have an interesting alternative to coal and wood? Visit a Tibetan household and you’ll be quite surprised to find that many use Yak dung.  Why is this so? You see, it’s a brilliant way to recycle a waste product, it has less harmful emissions compared to other alternatives, plus it’s cost-effective.

Fact # 8:  They suffer from animal cruelty

Unfortunately, many animals are subjected to acts of cruelty, including the wild yaks. Add environmental changes and poaching to it, and you will see that they can speed up the extinction of the wild yaks, which is already nearing the borderline.  As their bones contain medicinal properties, they are highly sought after and used as a common, yet controversial ingredient in traditional medicine.

Fact # 9:  What is a Dzomo?

A female yak may occasionally crossbreed with a bull and give birth to an offspring known as a Dzomo. More gentle than a domestic yak, it is also used to transport goods just like its domestic counterparts. If you visit Tibet, you will see a few of them roaming around the Tibetan landscape. 

Fact # 10:  Where do most Yaks reside?

You may think that a large number of Yaks are scattered around the Himalayas. The reality is that 90% of them live in the Tibetan plateau. When you think about it, you’ll understand why the Yak is deemed so important and valuable. They fill a significant part in Tibet’s economic, socio-cultural, and daily life.  

We hope you had a wonderful time reading this and found these facts interesting. Check out our yak-wool blended shawls here

Further readings on Himalayas

1. Where the Mountains reach up to heaven

2. A paradise of exotic animals

3. 10 Fascinating Facts about the Tibetan Yaks 

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