Ladakhi Peraks



Ladakhi women wear peraks that resemble the flayed hood of a cobra; a wide band of turquoise trails down the back. From a distance, the serpentine analogy is further enhanced by the placement of the pieces of stone which resemble scales on snakeskin. The tantric Buddhist Vajrayana cults of Ladakh venerate the cobra as ‘king of the nagas,’ or serpents. The cobra is often portrayed hovering over deities and, by association, the wearer is believed to be protected by her perak. The turquoise adornment is symbolic, as nagas are considered guardians of the earth’s mineral wealth--and icons of fertility. Ladakhi society is polyandrous, and a woman’s disposable income goes to accumulating items to adorn her perak. Full-length peraks are the sartorial prerogative of wealthy married women. The family’s wealth and the matriarch’s individual worth can be calculated by her peers with one glance at her headdress.

Leh, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir


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