Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In the mountain regions, this implies movement between higher pastures in summer and lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in the valleys. Only the herds travel along with the people necessary to tend them. In the Indian Himalayan region, the Gujjars, Bakarwals of Jammu and Kashmir and the Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh are amongst those communities who practice

The Gaddis are a semi nomadic tribe of Himachal Pradesh. They usually construct two sets of houses. During summers, these people move to the higher areas in Lahaul and Spiti. With the onset of winter, the Gaddis along with their families and flock, migrate to Kangra valley. The herd is always accompanied by the Gaddi dogs that protect the flock. After migrating to the foothills, the Gaddis engage in agricultural activities, with the main crop grown being millets. Women engage in the weaving of wool.

The Gujjars of J&K are pastoral nomads, simple, sturdy and hardworking people, who move to high alpine regions during summer in search of good pastures, a practice known as behak. Normally several households move together and are known as kafila. They carry all essential household items on horseback. By September, the Gujjars start moving towards the plains, where they spend the winters. These great herders of sheep and goat carry the kids or lambs around their necks or in their arms.

The Bakarwals, also from J&K, are mainly goatherds and shepherds. Along with Gujjars, they constitute about 30 per cent of J&K's population. Bakarwals lead a lonely and tough life in the high-altitude meadows of the Himalayas and the Pir-Panjal. Every year, they take their sheep high into the mountains, above the tree line to graze in the lush meadows. It may take them as many as sixty days to reach these meadows. During the summer, they move from one meadow to the other. They generally travel in pairs; they may also go alone or in larger groups including the whole family (depending on the number of sheep/goats to be taken care of). They are always accompanied by their dogs, the bhotia
or bakarwal dogs, and their pack animals.


Contributed by: CEE Himalaya

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Muslin Fabric

This gossamer light muslin fabric has found mention in the writings of many visitors to India, even as far back as the 3rd century B.C. A great deal of muslin was produced in and exported from Bengal. Dacca was the main region where cotton was cultivated due to the high humidity of the region, which prevented the delicate thread from breaking on contact with the air. The cotton spun was very white since the Brahmaputra and the Ganges Rivers have bleaching properties. The chikan workers in Bengal used this fine muslin for embroidery.

Stitches in Chikankari

Double-Star Earring, Peacock Feather's Eye, Sidhual, Makra, Mandarzi, Bulbulchashm, Tajmahal, Phooljali, Phanda, Dhoom, Gol, murri, Janjeera, Keel, Kangan, Bakhia, Dhania Patti, lambi Murri, Kapkapi, Karan Phool, Bijli, Ghaspatti, Rozan, Meharki, Kaj, Chameli, Chane ki Patti, Balda, Jora, Pachni, Tapchim Kauri, Hathkati and Daraj of various types.