Yak butter pots

What are they?

In Nepal and Tibet, especially in the high Himalayan mountains, farmers stored milk and butter in wooden jars called yak butter jars or pots. Wooden jars with a raised edge, a relatively small opening and a lid were ideal for storing yak milk or butter. In addition, the pots were used to collect milk during yak milking or for churning butter.

yak butter pot collection

Different types of pots

There are many different types and sizes of yak butter jars. There are small ones, which farmers could easily take with them, and large ones, which were used more as storage jars. But the smaller pots were sometimes also used for goat's milk and to store yak butter.

They come in different shapes, including elongated and narrow, or wide and round.

yak butter pot brown
yak butter pot long
yak butter pot neck
yak butter pot handles

Most jars of yak butter are light brown in color. Some are darker brown to black. Some pots are white. If the jars have a lid, the lid is often loose. On the outside you can sometimes see decorative lines or ridges on the pots.

yak butter pot black
yak butter pot small
yak butter pot ridge

Yak butter

Yak butter (also called "dri butter") is butter made from the milk of yaks. Yaks are domesticated wild oxen that live at high altitudes in the Himalayas.

Yak Himalaya credits Alexandr Frolov
A yak in the Himalayas

Yak butter is also used to make the traditional drink yak butter tea (also called Tibetan butter tea, Boe jha, cha süma, goor goor cha, cha suskan). This is done by adding yak butter, salt, and water to the tea. They usually use pu'erh tea for this. Especially in Tibet, many people drink this drink several times a day. It helps to stay warm and hydrated at high altitudes. Furthermore, yak butter is also used in various meals.

yak butter tea
Yak butter tea with a meal


Jars of yak butter used to be made from hardwood. Sometimes they broke or tore. You could fix them with metal pins. Today, yak butter pots are made of metal or ceramic. As a result, wooden yak butter pots fell into disuse. These old wooden pots are highly valued in the West as home decoration and that is why the pots that have been preserved are now often bought by traders.

Yak butter pots look great in rustic interiors. They are popular among interior stylists and you regularly find them in magazines. You can display them on their own or use them as a vase for dried flowers or branches.

yak butter pot interior
Yak butter pots as interior decoration

Rootz Gallery collection

We have a large collection of yak butter jars. In these photos you see only a small part of our extensive collection. If you are looking for a specific type of pot (height, shape, color), let us know and we will search our collection for you! You can send us a message on +31 6 55834611 (Whatsapp/call) or email info@rootz.gallery.

Just a small part of Rootz Gallery's extensive collection of yak butter pots:


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