Before They Pass Away is a long-term project by photographer Jimmy Nelson, designed to give us the unique opportunity to discover more than 30 secluded and slowly vanishing tribes from all over the world. According to Nelson, his mission was to assure that the world never forgets how things used to be: “Most importantly, I wanted to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world.”
Tsaatan (reindeer people) are the last reindeer herders who survived for thousands of years inhabiting the remotest subartic taiga, moving between 5 and 10 times a year. Presently, only 44 families remain, their existence threatened by the dwindling number of their domesticated reindeer.
The Samburu people live in northern Kenya, where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the northern dessert. As cattle-herding Nilotes, they reached Kenya some five hundred years ago, moving southwards along the plains of the Rift Valley in a rapid, all-conquering advance.
For almost 1,000 years, the Rabari have roamed the deserts and plains of what is today western India. It is believed that this tribe, with a peculiar Persian physiognomy, migrated from the Iranian plateau more than a millennium ago. The Rabari are now found largely in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Ladakh (meaning ‘land of the passes’) is a cold desert in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is divided into the mainly Muslim Kargil district and the primarily Buddhist Leh district. The people of Ladakh have a rich folklore, some of which date back to the pre- Buddhist era.
Settlement in the 85 Vanuatu islands dates back to around 500 BC. There is evidence that Melanesian navigators from Papua New Guinea were the first to colonize Vanuatu. Over centuries, other migrations followed. Nowadays, all the inhabited islands have their own languages, customs and traditions.
The approximately 5.5 million Tibetans are an ethnic group with bold and uninhibited characteristics. Archaeological and geological discoveries indicate that the Tibetans are descendants of aboriginal and nomadic Qiang tribes. The history of Tibet began around 4,000 years ago.
Around 2,500 Drokpas live in three small villages in a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. The only fertile valley of Ladakh. The Drokpas are completely different– physically, culturally, linguistically and socially – from the Tibeto-Burman inhabitants of most of Ladakh.
One of the tribes inhabiting the Baliem Valley region, in the midst of the Jayawijaya mountain range of Papua Indonesia, is the Yali ‘Lords of the Earth’. They live in the virgin forests of the highlands. The Yali are officially recognized as pygmies, with men standing at just 150 cm tall.
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Before They Pass Away is a long-term project by photographer Jimmy Nelson, designed to give us the unique opportunity to discover more than 30 secluded and slowly vanishing tribes from all over the world. According to Nelson, his mission was to assure that the world never forgets how things used to be: “Most importantly, I wanted to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world.
The Kazakhs are the descendants of Turkic, Mongolic and Indo-Iranian tribes and Huns that populated the territory between Siberia and the Black Sea. They are a semi-nomadic people and have roamed the mountains and valleys of western Mongolia with their herds since the 19th century.
The Himba are an ancient tribe of tall, slender and statuesque herders. Since the 16th century they have lived in scattered settlements, leading a life that has remained unchanged, surviving war and droughts. The tribal structure helps them live in one of the most extreme environments on earth.
It is believed that the first Papua New Guineans migrated to the island over 45000 years ago. Today, over 3 million people, half of the heterogeneous population, live in the highlands. Some of these communities have engaged in low-scale tribal conflict with their neighbors for millennia.
A number of different tribes have lived scattered across the highland plateau for 1000 years, in small agrarian clans, isolated by the harsh terrain and divided by language, custom and tradition. The legendary Asaro Mudmen first met with the Western world in the middle of the 20th century.
The eastern half of New Guinea gained full independence from Australia in 1975, when Papua New Guinea was born. The indigenous population is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Traditionally, the different tribes scattered across the highland plateau, live in small agrarian clans.
The indigenous population of the world’s second largest island is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. The harsh terrain and historic inter-tribal warfare has lead to village isolation and the proliferation of distinct languages. A number of different tribes are scattered across the highland plateau.
The ancient Arctic Chukchi live on the peninsula of the Chukotka. Unlike other native groups of Siberia, they have never been conquered by Russian troops. Their environment and traditional culture endured destruction under Soviet rule, by weapons testing and pollution.
The long and intriguing story of the origin of the indigenous Maori people can be traced back to the 13th century, the mythical homeland Hawaiki, Eastern Polynesia. Due to centuries of isolation, the Maori established a distinct society with characteristic art, a separate language and unique mythology.
The former kingdom of Lo is linked by religion, culture and history to Tibet, but is politically part of Nepal. Now Tibetan culture is in danger of disappearing, it stands alone as one of the last truly Tibetan cultures existing today. Until 1991 no outsiders were allowed to enter Mustang.
Nomadic and colorful horsemen and cowboys have wandered the prairies as early as the 1700s, when wild Cimarron cattle overpopulated the flatlands. In the 18th century, when leather was in high demand, Gauchos arose to clandestinely hunt the huge herds of horses and cattle.
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Hey everyone, stood up all night pondering the finale to True Detective and drawing this thing.
Prints are available on Society6
Investigate a fresh lead. True Detective airs Sundays at 9PM, only on HBO. http://www.darknessbecomesyou.com/episode-4/crusaders/ginger
Explore Cohle’s sketchbook. True Detective airs Sundays at 9PM, only on HBO. http://www.darknessbecomesyou.com/episode-1/sketchbook