A Spout-less Pastoral Churn
Every pastoral community of the Himalayas relishes butter and butter tea. The communities use similar churns for both. Even so the material used for and the decoration on the device reflect regional flavors.
They employ metal mainly for decorations and adding strength. Each family owns at least one 3-4-foot high cylindrical appliance.
Indian Himalayan communities from Jammu and Kashmir (JK), Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh; and those from Nepal and Tibet make churns of different types of metal and / or wood.
JK designs the churns with willow wood. The lid and upper and lower parts are wrapped in brass or copper plates adorned with flowered and foliaged motifs. Arunachal crafts churns from bamboo. They employ metal mainly for decorations and adding strength. Each family owns at least one 3-4-foot high cylindrical appliance.
Tibetans and Spitians call their churns dongmos. Ladakhis dub the appliance gurgur after gurgur tea, the name of butter tea in Ladakh, because
churning produces sound of gurgur.
A dongmo is used to prepare butter tea having consistency of a soup. The simple recipe requires two steps: (1) Pour hot boiling tea in a dongmo. (2) Add butter, salt, and yak milk and spin it with the wooden stick. Serve the brew hot.
Butter is also made in a dongmo, a tube type blending device and churn. The churn consists of three parts: a main vessel, dasher (stick), and small lid with a hole for the dasher. A round disk sits at the bottom of the butter churn dasher. These handmade containers also feature strong straps for displaying it on the home walls and ease of transportation. The churns are crafted in different sizes and weights.
The dasher is moved up and down during butter making. The spout-less churn is tilted and the content is stirred with the stick while brewing the tea.
Info Bytes Variants of Spellings
You can buy a decorated colorful dongmo for your home walls.
Churns from Maneyogma, Spiti. The short blue churn is lighter than the long brown one.
The dasher and the lid
Decorative Buddhist (religious) motif on the dongmo