When we think of reindeer,
most of us jump to the same imagery: the North Pole, snow and
you think of reindeer, your mind might not immediately go to the Altai
Mountains of Outer Mongolia in Central Asia . Here, a nomadic tribe
lives among the reindeer.
lives of the real-life reindeer riders have fascinated outsiders for
idyllic land was described in 518 B.C.E. by Greek poet Pindar as "Hyperborea" and the tribe as a healing
race living peacefully with �neither disease not bitter old age is
mixed� in their sacred blood; far from labor and battle�
tribe's contemporary name is the Mongolian Ta�ga Dukha, for the Ta�ga
region mountain range in Kh�vsg�l , Mongolia .
neighbored by the Russian border and the remote Darkhad valley.
of the area is under natural protection, although it's noted for its
inaccessibility and remoteness, even by local
Although the Dukha call the area home, they
are certainly not a dominating force: they readily share their space
with an incredible array of their animal neighbors.
horses, bears, eagles, and wolves are all common to Kh�vsg�l's
Dukha have for generations bred docile reindeer, although never for
meat. Their unique form of reindeer husbandry is keenly conscious of
the area's conservation and bio-diversity.
reindeer provide a great means of transportation along the rough
terrain for migrating, hunting and occasionally taking trips into
town. Nearby villages will often purchase and collect the antlers the
reindeer naturally shed during wintertime.
Beyond the reindeer, Dukha have a tradition
of eagle hunting.
Dukha practice Tengrism, a shamanistic religion that emphasizes
totemism, the spiritual connection and kinship with animals, plants
and spirit beings.
There's a seamless blend from totemism in
religious practice and everyday life.
example, one of the most honorable titles passed down by generations
is the eagle hunter who tames and trains eagles to hunt small prey for
Photographer and Mongolia/Tibetan language
Sardar-Afkhami spent some time with this incredible Himalayan
tribe to bring these incredible images.
Credit: Messy Nessy Chic | Hamid