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Have a Last Good Look At Them Before They Pass Away

Photographer Jimmy Nelson captures some of the rarest, almost extinct traces of true humanity – a life that lies within 27 most unique tribes of the world, that are slowly dying away. So have a last look at what magic Jimmy Nelson and has camera create before these tribes become extinct forever, leaving a hole in the very essence of the human race.

1. Kazakh Tribe – Mongolia

History: 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.

Tradition: The ancient art of eagle hunting is one of many traditions and skills that the Kazakhs have, in recent decades, been able to hold on to. They rely on their clan and herds, believing in pre-Islamic cults of the sky, the ancestors, fire and the supernatural forces of good and evil spirits.

Tribal Teaching: “Fine horses and fierce eagles are the wings of the Kazakh”

2. Himba Tribe – Namibia

History: 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
Tradition: Each member belongs to two clans, through the father and the mother. Marriages are arranged with a view to spreading wealth. Looks are vital, it tells everything about one’s place within the group and phase of life. The headman, normally a grandfather, is responsible for the rules of the tribe.
Tribal Teaching: “Don’t start your farming with cattle, start it with people”

3. Huli Tribe – Papua New Guinea

History: 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 neighbours for millennia.

Tradition: The tribes fight over land, pigs and women. Great effort is made to impress the enemy. The largest tribe, the Huli wigmen, paint their faces yellow, red and white and are famous for their tradition of making ornamented wigs from their own hair. An axe with a claw completes the intimidating effect.
Tribal Teaching: “Knowledge is only rumour until it is in the muscle”

4. Asaro Tribe – Papua New Guinea

History: 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.

Tradition: Legend has it that the Mudmen were forced to flee from an enemy into the Asaro River where they waited until dusk to escape. The enemy saw them rise from the banks covered in mud and thought they were spirits. The Asaro still apply mud and masks to keep the illusion alive and terrify other tribes.
Tribal Teaching: “Knowledge is only rumor until it is in the muscle”

5. Kalam Tribe – Papua New Guinea

History :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.

Tradition: The first visitors were impressed to find valleys of carefully planned gardens and irrigation ditches. The women of the tribes are exceptional farmers. The men hunt and fight other tribes over land, pigs and women. Great effort is made to impress the enemy with terrifying masks, wigs and paint.
Tribal Teaching: “Knowledge is only rumor until it is in the muscle”

6. Goroka Tribe – Papua New Guinea

History: 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.

Tradition: Life is simple in the highland villages. The residents have plenty of good food, close-knit families and a great respect for the wonders of nature. They live by hunting, gathering plants and growing crops. Tribal warfare is a common and men go to great effort to impress the enemy with make-up and ornaments.
Tribal Teaching: “Knowledge is only rumor until it is in the muscle”

7. Chukchi Tribe – Russia

History: 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.

Tradition: Due to the harsh climate and difficulty of life in the tundra, hospitality and generosity are highly prized among the Chukchi. They believe that all natural phenomena are considered to have their own spirits. Traditional lifestyle still survives but is increasingly supplemented.

Tribal Teaching: “The way you treat your dog in this life determines your place in heaven”

8. Maori Tribe – New Zealand

History: 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.

Tradition: Defining aspects of Maori traditional culture include art, dance, legends, tattoos and community. While the arrival of European colonists in the 18th centure had a profound impact on the Maori way of life, many aspects of traditional society have survived into the 21th century.

Tribal Teaching: “My language is my awakening, my language is the window to my soul”

9. Mustang Tribe – Nepal

History: 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.

Tradition: The traditions of the people of Lo are closely related to early Buddhism. Most still believe that the world is flat. They are highly religious, prayers and festivals are an integral part of their lives. The grandeur of the monasteries illustrates the prominent position of religion.

Tribal Teaching: “The one who is guilty has the higher voice”

10. Gaucho Tribe – Argentina

History : Nomadic and colourful 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.

Tradition: The word ‘Gaucho’ was used to describe the free spirits, inseparable from their horse and knife. Over time, when extensive portions of prairies were settled and commercial cattle began, there was less room for the Gauchos to roam. As their way of living changed, the legend of the Gaucho grew.

Tribal Teaching: “A Gaucho without a horse is only half a man”

11. Tsaatan Tribe – Mongolia

History: 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.

Tradition: The Tsaatan rely on the animal for most, if not all, of their basic needs: milk, which is also used to make cheese; antlers, which they use to make tools; and first and foremost, transport. They do not use the reindeer for meat. This makes the tribe unique among reindeer-herding communities.

Tribal Teaching: “If there were no reindeer we would not exist”

12. Samburu Tribe – Kenya

History: The Samburu people live in northern Kenya, where the foothills of Mount Kenya merge into the northern desert. 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.

Tradition: The Samburu have to relocate every 5 to 6 weeks to ensure their cattle can feed. They are independent and egalitarian people, much more traditional then the Masaai. Their society has depended on cattle and warfare for so long that they find it hard to change to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Tribal Teaching: “A deaf ear meets with death, a listening ear with blessings”

13. Rabari Tribe – India

History : 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.

Tradition: The Rabari women dedicate long hours to embroidery, a vital and evolving expression of their crafted textile tradition. They also manage the hamlets and all money matters while the men are on the move with the herds. The livestock, wool, milk and leather, is their main source of income.

Tribal Teaching: “It is morning whenever you wake up”

14. Mursi Tribe – Ethopia

History: The nomadic Mursi tribe lives in the lower area of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. Extreme drought has made it difficult to feed themselves by means of traditional cultivation and herding. The establishment of national parks has restricted their access and threatened their natural resources.

Tradition: The Mursi are famous for their stick-fighting ceremony and Mursi women are known all over the world for wearing clay plates in their lower lips. Their economy concentrated on bartering and sharing possessions. This changed when tourists arrived, offering money in exchange for photographs.
Tribal Teaching: “It’s better to die than live without killing”

15. Ladakhi Tribe – India

History: 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.

Tradition: As the Himalayan farming season is short, Ladakhi only work for 4 months of the year. All ages can join in and help. During the 8 winter months work is minimal and festivals and celebrations are almost a continuous affair, giving them the opportunity to display Goncha, the traditional dress.

Tribal Teaching: “The land is so harsh and the passes so numerous, that only the best of friends or the worst of enemies would visit you”

16. Vanuatu Tribe – Vanuatu Islands

History: 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 colonise Vanuatu. Over centuries, other migrations followed. Nowadays, all the inhabited islands have their own languages, customs and traditions.

Tradition: Many Vanuatu believe that wealth can be obtained through ceremonies. Dance is an important part of their culture; many villages have dancing grounds called Nasara. A significant traditional event is the Toka festival on Tanna Island, a symbol of alliance and friendship between different tribes.

Tribal Teaching: “A girl is like a branch of nettle tree – whatever ground you plant it in, it will grow”

17. Tibetans – Tibet

History: 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.

Tradition: Prayer flags, sky burials, festival devil dances, spirit traps, rubbing holy stones, all associated with Tibetan beliefs, evolved from the ancient shamanist Bon religion. The costume and ornaments communicate not only the habits, but also the history, beliefs, climate and character of the people.

Tribal Teaching: “Better to see once than to hear many times”

18. Drokpa Tribe – Pakistan

History: 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.

Tradition: For centuries, the Drokpas have been indulging in public kissing and wife-swapping without inhibitions. Their cultural exuberance is reflected in exquisite dresses and ornaments. Their main sources of income are products from the well-tended vegetable gardens.

Tribal Teaching: “Boast during the day, be humble at night”

19. Dassanech Tribe – Ethopia

History: The Omo Valley, situated in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, is home to an estimated 200,000 tribal people who have lived there for millennia. The 20,000-strong Dassanech (meaning ‘People from the Delta”) inhabit the southernmost region of the valley, where the Omo River Delta enters Lake Turkana.
Tradition: Cattle are central to the lives of the Dassanech. When they lose their cattle to disease, drought or raid by a neighbouring tribe, they turn to the world’s largest desert lake for sustenance. The tribe is typical in that it is not strictly defined by ethnicity. Anyone will be admitted.
Tribal Teaching: “A close friend can become a close enemy”

20. Banna Tribe – Ethopia

History: The Omo Valley, situated in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, southwest Ethiopia, is home to an estimated 200,000 tribal people who have lived there for millennia. The Banna, approximately 45,000 in number, are a mainly agricultural people who inhabit the highlands east of the Omo River.

Tradition: Like other tribes, the Banna practise ritual dancing and singing. To prepare for a ceremony, they paint themselves with white chalk mixed with yellow rock, red iron ore and charcoal. The biggest ceremony in a man’s life is called Dimi, to celebrate his daughter for fertility and marriage

Tribal Teaching: “A close friend can become a close enemy”

21. Karo Tribe – Ethopia

History: The Omo Valley, situated in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, is home to an estimated 200,000 tribal people who have lived there for millennia. Amongst them are 1,000 to 3,000 Karo who dwell on the eastern banks of the Omo river and practise flood-retreat cultivation, growing sorghum, maize and beans.

Tradition: The Karo were known for their magnificent houses (when still rich in cattle) but after they lost their wealth, they adopted the much lighter conical huts. Every Karo family owns two houses: the Ono, the principal living room of the family, and the Gappa, the centre of several household activities.
Tribal Teaching: “A close friend can become a close enemy”

22. Hamar Tribe – Ethopia

History: The Omo Valley, situated in Africa’s Great Rift Valley, southwest Ethiopia, is home to an estimated 200,000 tribal people who have lived there for millennia. The tribes have always traded between each other, for beads, food, cattle and cloth. More recently, the trade has been in guns and bullets.
Tradition: The tribes live a simple life of hunting, gathering, raising cattle and growing sorghum along the banks of the River Omo. They have been influenced by evangelist missionaries and are Muslim by name. Traditional Animism is also still practised. The tribes now share a polytheist mixture of beliefs.
Tribal Teaching: “A close friend can become a close enemy”

23. Dani Tribe – Papua New Guinea

History: Baliem Valley is situated 1600 metres above sea level in the midst of the Jayawijaya mountain range of Papua Indonesia. The Dani live in the actual valley. They are farmers and use an efficient irrigation system. Archaeological finds prove that the valley has been farmed for 9,000 years

Tradition: The Dani often had to fight for their territory against different villages or other tribes. That’s why they have been called the most dreaded head- hunting tribe of Papua. This is remarkable considering the fact that they did not eat their enemies, like the majority of other Papuan tribes did.

Tribal Teaching: “If the hand does nothing, the mouth does not chew”

24. Yali Tribe – Indonesia

History: 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 recognised as pygmies, with men standing at just 150 cm tall.

Tradition: Papuan tribes, different in appearance and language, have a similar way of life. They are all polygamist and conduct rituals for important occasions at which reciprocal exchange of gifts is obligated. The Koteka, penis gourd, is a piece of traditional clothing used to distinguish tribal identity.
Tribal Teaching: “If the hand does nothing, the mouth does not chew”

25. Korowai Tribe – Indonesia

History: South of the Jayawijaya mountain range of Papua Indonesiais a large area of lowland. The area accommodates a myriad of rivers forming swamps, wetlands and mangrove forests. It’s the habitat of the Korowai, a tribe that until the early 1970s, believed that they were the only humans on earth.
Tradition: The Korowai are one of the few Papuan tribes that do not wear the Koteka, a penis gourd. Instead, the men ‘hide’ their penises in their scrotums, to which a leaf is then tightly tied. They are hunter-gatherers, living in tree houses. They adhere to strict separatism between men and women.
Tribal Teaching: “If the hand does nothing, the mouth does not chew”

26. Maasai Tribe – Tanzania

History: When the Maasai migrated from the Sudan in the 15th century, they attacked the tribes they met along the way and raided cattle. By the end of their journey, they had taken over almost all of the land in the Rift Valley. To be a Maasai is to be born into one of the last great warrior cultures.

Tradition: The Maasai’s entire way of life has historically depended on their cattle, following patterns of rainfall over vast land in search of food and water. Nowadays, it is common to see young Maasai men and women in cities selling not just goats and cows, but also beads, mobile phones, charcoal, grain.
Tribal Teaching: “Lions can run faster than us, but we can run farther”

27. Nenets – Russia

History: The Nenets are reindeer herders, migrating across the Yamal peninsula, thriving for more then a millennium with temperatures from minus 50°C in winter to 35°C in summer. Their annual migration of over a 1000 km includes a 48 km crossing of the frozen waters of the Ob River.

Tradition: “If the hand does nothing, the mouth does not chew”Tradition: The discovery of oil and gas reserves in the 1970s and the expanding infrastructure on the peninsula, has challenged their indigenous lifestyle. From the late Stalin period, all children have been enrolled in Soviet boarding schools, this has become a part of the typical Nenets life cycle.


Tribal Teaching: “If the hand does nothing, the mouth does not chew”Tribal Teaching: “If you don’t drink warm blood and eat fresh meat, you are doomed to die on the tundra”

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