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Incredible photographs show nomadic people in central Asia

Incredible photographs showing Mongolia’s spectacular, rugged landscape and have given a rare glimpse into the fascinating lives of nomads in central Asia.

Photographer Hamid Sardar-Afkhami set out to record the lives of three tribes living in Mongolia – the Tsaatan reindeer people, Kazakh eagle hunters and Mongol horsemen.

His collection of photographs from almost 20 years of expeditions to central Asia is titled ‘Dark Heavens’.

‘My aim was to create a photographic record of the nomad’s way of life and observe something of the wisdom hidden in their customs and manners,’ Mr Sardar-Afkhami said.

‘There were times when I was totally cut off from urban civilisation, yet I always felt strangely embraced in the Mongol wilderness.

‘There was an imaginative resonance here between animal and man that can no longer be found in places less primal.’

Some of the scenes captured in the amazing photographs include a soaring falcon flying high over the Deloun Highlands, a shaman with his wolf in Olgii province, and Kazak’s holding eagles while riding horses.

The relationship between humans and animals is a key theme of Mr Sardar-Afhami’s work.

‘I met an old man in the Gobi who could make camels cry by playing his fiddle; a Buryat lama who would call wolves to his doorstep by singing an ancient song.

‘In the foothills of the Altai, I rode with Kazak shepherds who taught me how to capture golden eagles from the nest and trained them to hunt before releasing them back into the wild.’

The name of the collection – ‘Dark Heavens’ – comes from a practice carried out by a shaman named Tsuyan who Mr Sardar-Afkhami would stay with during the bitter winters. 

A man on a horse waits for a falcon to land on his arm while perched on a rock

A woman attempts to wrangle a deer in the icy cold winter in central Asia 

A woman attempts to wrangle a deer in the icy cold winter in central Asia 

A dancing shaman is pictured in Hovsgol province in Mongolia in 2006 

A dancing shaman is pictured in Hovsgol province in Mongolia in 2006 

A young woman holds a baby deer while standing in knee deep water as dark storm clouds loom 

A young woman holds a baby deer while standing in knee deep water as dark storm clouds loom 

A boy sits with two wolves either side of him on a rocky perch in Mongolia 

A boy sits with two wolves either side of him on a rocky perch in Mongolia 

A boy holds a falcon while taking a drink in the rugged wilderness of Mongolia 

A boy holds a falcon while taking a drink in the rugged wilderness of Mongolia 

A child sleeps leaning up against a deer in west Taiga, Mongolia in 2006 

A child sleeps leaning up against a deer in west Taiga, Mongolia in 2006 

 A boy is pictured shouting at Kosgholgonduk Pass in Mongolia in 2007

 A boy is pictured shouting at Kosgholgonduk Pass in Mongolia in 2007

The relationship between humans and animals is a key theme of Mr Sardar-Afhami's work 

The relationship between humans and animals is a key theme of Mr Sardar-Afhami’s work 

A rider holds an eagle while riding a white horse in the Deloun Highlands in Mongolia in 2010

A rider holds an eagle while riding a white horse in the Deloun Highlands in Mongolia in 2010

A falcon flies over the Deloun Highlands in 2009 

A falcon flies over the Deloun Highlands in 2009 

A shaman matriarch is pictured in west Taiga, Hovsgol province, Mongolia in 2000

A shaman matriarch is pictured in west Taiga, Hovsgol province, Mongolia in 2000

Two men and a boy are pictured during a harsh winter in Mongolia with deer and wolves

Two men and a boy are pictured during a harsh winter in Mongolia with deer and wolves

Humans and animals work together to make their way through thick snow in central Asia

Humans and animals work together to make their way through thick snow in central Asia

A man sits with a bear in front of his hut in Mongolia

A man sits with a bear in front of his hut in Mongolia

A man holds an eagle while riding a horse in vast open lands in central Asia

A man holds an eagle while riding a horse in vast open lands in central Asia

A boy and a falcon in Olgii Province, Mongolia in 2001

A boy and a falcon in Olgii Province, Mongolia in 2001

A long trek through the snow is made by a man riding a horse followed by animals

A long trek through the snow is made by a man riding a horse followed by animals

The interaction of humans and animals is a prevalent theme in the collection of photos

The interaction of humans and animals is a prevalent theme in the collection of photos

A deermaid rides through a rocky stream in west Taiga, Hovsgol province, Mongolia in 2013

A deermaid rides through a rocky stream in west Taiga, Hovsgol province, Mongolia in 2013

Three young women ride deer through shallow waters in Mongolia

Three young women ride deer through shallow waters in Mongolia

A man holds a falcon using a specially crafted glove 

A man holds a falcon using a specially crafted glove 

An elderly man stands with a cane and two wolves at the top of a cliff-face

An elderly man stands with a cane and two wolves at the top of a cliff-face

Incredible photographs show nomadic people in central Asia

A woman breastfeeds a small baby while keeping warm during a bitterly cold winter

A young girl smiles despite the blizzard-like conditions she is surrounded by

A young girl smiles despite the blizzard-like conditions she is surrounded by

A woman rides a deer as skies clear in Mongolia, central Asia

A woman rides a deer as skies clear in Mongolia, central Asia

A woman breastfeeds while riding a deer

A woman breastfeeds while riding a deer

A deermaid poses for a photo on rocky cliffs in Mongolia

A deermaid poses for a photo on rocky cliffs in Mongolia

Intrepid travellers make their way through thick snow as the sun shines in Mongolia

Intrepid travellers make their way through thick snow as the sun shines in Mongolia

A woman feeds a deer from the comfort of a tent

A woman feeds a deer from the comfort of a tent

A man riding a deer makes his way through a raging river

A man riding a deer makes his way through a raging river

The contrasting landscape of central Asia is on show in the collection

The contrasting landscape of central Asia is on show in the collection

Amazing photographs such as this one of mountain peaks are also on show

Amazing photographs such as this one of mountain peaks are also on show



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