Yaks are indispensable for life on the Tibetan plateaus. Yak hair can be turned into yarn, clothes and ropes. Yak meat and milk are a major protein source. even dried yak manure is used for fuel.
In the past, wild yak herds dominated the region. Many tribes on the prairie used to challenge wild yaks to show their strength and bravery. With time, yaks become the symbol of Tibetan spirits. This majestic animal, with its incredible strength and character resonates deeply with the Tibetan people.
Not long ago, yaks were used mostly for transportation. Nowadays, Tibetans celebrate this tradition with a grand Yak Race. It is held annually as a part of the Sho Dun Festival.
The winner is repeatedly thrown into the air by the audience chanting triumphantly. Even the yak will be dressed up to celebrate its success. The winner usually receives a cow or a horse in addition to tea and new clothes.
Legend has it that in as early as Tang Dynasty, a Tibetan emperor married a Chinese princess. The marriage ceremony which included Yak Race impressed the princess a great deal. Ever since then, the Tibetans host Yak Races every year. A greatly anticipated form of entertainment for the local community.