The yak is a member of the hoofed bovidae family. It differs from other bovines in several of its characteristics eg tail like a horse with long thick hair. Yaks are widely used in the mountainous regions of the Tibet Plateau as beasts of burden and for subsistence through its milk and meat production. It is thought that there are approximately 13 million yaks on the plateaux that flank the Himalayas.

Each yak produces only about 100 gms of hair a year. The hair is either pulled or combed in the spring when the animal moults. The outer hair is separated from the inner down hair. The colour of yak hair can vary from black (wild yaks) to piebald and some very rare white. The inner down hair of the one year old calf has a diameter of 15-17 microns and is 4-5 cms in length. Adult down is 18-20 microns in diameter and 3-3.5 cms in length.

The yak fibre is used locally for weaving hut coverings, blankets, mats and sacks. Strong ropes and cordage are made from the tail hair and felted fabric from the down hair. Once dehaired, the fine inner down hair can be made into yarn that is comparable to cashmere.