The yak not only supplies fine wool, milk, and butter, but is a most useful beast of burden. It certainly requires skill and some patience to fasten the load on his back; but when this difficulty is overcome, he will carry at least two cwt. over lofty precipitous mountains, by the most dangerous paths, climbing ledges of rock where a goat or wild sheep would hardly keep its footing. In the country of the Tangutans, where camels are scarce, the yak is almost the only substitute, and large caravans of these animals are annually sent from Koko-nor to Lhassa.
In Kan-su herds of yaks roam almost at liberty over the pastures, being driven in at night to the tents of their owners. Yak milk is delicious, and as rich as cream; the butter made from it is yellow and far superior to that made from cows' milk. In fact the yak is a most valuable beast, and should be encouraged in Siberia and in those parts of European Russia suitable to its habits, the Ural mountains for instance, or the Caucasus, where it could be acclimatized without great difficulty. Any number of yaks may be purchased at Urga at 5l. a head; and they could be driven to Russia at a small expense.
The Tangutans ride the yak, guiding it by means of a rope attached to a large wooden ring inserted in its nostrils. The cross-breed of the yak bull and domestic cow, called by the natives khainik, is stronger, more hardy, and therefore more valuable.
- This valuable cross is also mentioned by Marco Polo, in his account of Tangul (2d. ed. i. 266). It is in use also on the Indian side of Tibet. — Y.