Men traditionally wear thick woollen robe called "Goucha", fastened at the neck, under the armpit and tied at the waist with a colourful sash known as a "Skerag". The Skerag is about two metres long and 20 cm wide, wound round and round and tucked in. In this sash men carry the small essentials of Ladakhi life.
The women wear a similar robe called a "Kuntop" but on their backs they add a colourful shawl, the "Bok" - in which a baby or parcels can easily be carried. It used to be worn for warmth and a protection on the back against heavy loads of sticks and rocks.
Traditionally there was a brightly coloured design on the outside, with Yak or goatskin on the inside to keep the wearer warm. This has now been changed by fashion to a simple ornament of brightly coloured material, although in winter many women still wear the goatskin for warmth.
The Traditional Accessories
The women wear their hair in two long pigtails, a style also followed by some men. They top the picturesque ensemble with a top hat or "Perak", which somehow remains firmly balanced, perched on top of their heads. The traditional Perak has three, five, seven or nine lines of turquoise, according to the rank of the wearer.
Only the very richest and royalist of families could wear nine lines. When the woman dies the Perak passes to the eldest child of her family. Shoes, known as "Papu", are made of woven Yak hair or wool, often gaily decorated, with a sole of Yak leather.
Although many men are abandoning their traditional dress for western clothing, the women still predominantly wear their colourful local dress.