Around 2,500 Drokpas live in three small villages in a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, in the only fertile valley of Ladakh. The Drokpas are completely different– physically, culturally, linguistically and socially – from the Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of most of Ladakh.
“Boast during the day, be humble at night”
For centuries, the Drokpas have been indulging in public kissing and partner swapping without inhibitions. Their cultural exuberance is reflected in exquisite dresses and ornaments. Their main sources of income are products from vegetable gardens.
Ladakh (meaning ‘land of the passes’) is a cold desert in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is divided into the mainly Muslim Kargil district and the primarily Buddhist Leh district. The people of Ladakh have a rich folklore, some of which date back to the pre-Buddhist era.
“The land is so harsh and the passes so numerous, that only the best of friends or the worst of enemies would visit you”
As the Himalayan farming season is short, Ladakhi only work for 4 months of the year. All ages can join in and help. During the eight winter months, work is minimal and festivals and celebrations are almost a continuous affair, giving ample opportunity to display Goncha, the traditional dress.
For almost 1,000 years, the Rabari have roamed the deserts and plains of what is today western India. It is believed that this indigenous group, with a pronounced Persian physiognomy, migrated from the Iranian plateau more than a millennium ago. The Rabari are now found largely in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
“It is morning whenever you wake up"
The Rabari women dedicate long hours to embroidery, a vital and evolving expression of their crafted textile tradition. They also manage the hamlets and all money matters, while the men are on the move with the herds. Livestock, wool, milk and leather, is their main source of income.