The Norden Blog

An intimate look into life on the Tibetan Plateau around the Norden Camp

Nomad Baskets; Innovation in the Vernacular

Every few years, peasants and nomads weave baskets from the reeds and bushes found in wet areas. They are used by nomad women to collect dung, the basket tied to their backs, the dung flung into it with a backward gesture of the arm. It is an excruciating task that the women performed in the early hours of dawn, walking the areas where the animals had left their droppings, collecting, then dumping the dung into piles. Later, they would shape the dung into patties and leave them to dry, to be used as fuel.

When I looked at those baskets, I thought of all that, and not much else. It took Isabelle Graz to spot them, admire their vernacular beauty and assign them new uses. They started as trash cans scattered in Norden Camp, but didn’t manage to survive the weather. They then moved indoors and held Norlha scarves in the store, and are also carried by the Norlha cleaning team to transport laundry and supplies for the rooms. Yidam and Dechen then ordered smaller versions for other storage uses.

Kim Yeshi