What is Yak Leather?


Wild Yak

Wild yak ( Bos Mutus )


Yaks or Bos Mutus to give it it’s scientific name, are a bovine member. They are from the Himalayan region of Indian subcontinent, the Tibetan Plateau and go as far as Siberia and Mongolia, they are a long-haired animal.

More than half the world population reside in the Changtang National Reserve in Tibet.

There are no exact figures globally for the Wild Yak population, but scientists estimate this to be at around 16 million mainly living in the Northern Tibet areas, the USA has around 10,000 yaks.

Wild yaks live at altitudes of around 4,000 to 6,000 metres.

A yak Leather Hide is small in comparison to cow leather. Yaks’ hides are an average of 3 metres square whereas a cow hide is 5 metres square.

The older the Yak the less likely the skin with be in good quality, so only younger Yaks are used for this process.

The main production for wild yaks is shoes and boots, but it  also used on handbags, belts and saddles.

Due to the extreme weather conditions the hide of a Yak is more denser in structure than a typical cow. Processing Yak leather is not easy as it has large grease deposits, with the leather becoming more unstable deeper within the hide this results in higher production costs, hence why yak leather is not a cheap product to buy.


As well as traditional leather hides from Yaks you also get hair on hide Yaks that are used for decorative purposes as rugs or to cover furniture or used on handles of weapons.


Yak Leather Hide

Yak Leather Hide Tanned and Finished


Yak hides can be used for a many items including traditional footwear like moccasin, but as extreme as boats.


Yak Leather Boat

Yak Leather Boat Made By The Himalayan People


As with any skin this has to go through a tanning process they are dehaired, desalted and soaked in water for 6 hours to 2 days, acids were used prior to the industrial revolution, but after that a process was adopted called Chrome Tanning (III) this was more environmentally friendly as it contained controlled chemicals and salts.

The process to tan a skin is around a full day, whereas veg tanned leather takes a great deal longer, in principal it’s the same process of removing water deposits from the collagen fibres and replacing them with chrome deposits. The initial process is to place the hides in acid salts to allow the chrome deposits to bond in place, then the skins are returned to a normal Ph level.


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