Thanks to the amazing power of photography, history has been recorded and preserved by collectors, artists, scholars and adventurers worldwide.
As people, languages, cultures and practices evolve because of civilization and sometimes conflict leading to war, many things tend to be forgotten and buried in the rubble.
The following breathtaking portraits chronicle some of the world’s last indigenous people who against the odds have held out against modern life. They were taken by photographer Jimmy Nelson, who has seen that their unique ways are in jeopardy and their loss would rob future generations of global cultural heritage.
IBIENE is big on culture and its preservation so here are some of the cultures preserved in art;
The ancient people of Himba:
The Himba are an ancient tribe of an estimated 20 thousand to 30 thousand members located near the Kunene River in northwest Namibia and southwest Angola. They’re tall, slender semi-nomadic herders. Most of them still live and dress according to ancient traditions and speak Herero—their language since the 16th century.
The Himba live in scattered settlements in cone-shaped structures made of saplings bound together with palm leaves and plastered with mud and dung. If there are lesser grasses for grazing, the village will migrate to lands with greener pastures. The young men leave first to set up separate, temporary villages and then move the cattle, while the women, children, and older men remain at the main settlement.
Tibetan history, as it has been recorded, is particularly focused on the history of Buddhism in Tibet. This is partly due to the pivotal role religion has played in the development of Tibetan and Mongol cultures and also because almost all native historians of the country were Buddhist monks. With a history of approximately 5.5 million Tibetans, their culture can be traced to around 4,000 years ago. Tibet is located by the south-west of China, also bordering India.
The Nenets of Siberia:
The Nenets people are a nomadic tribe of more than 10 thousand who herd more than 300 thousand reindeer in the Siberian arctic, considered one of the most uninhabitable places on earth, where temperatures plummet to a very cold minus 58 degrees in winter and reach a pretty hot 95 degrees in the summer.
It is said that they believe that people and deer entered a kind of social contract, where reindeer offered themselves to humans for their subsistence and transport, and humans agreed to accompany them on their seasonal migrations and protect them from predators.
The Ni-Vanatu of the Republic of Vanatu:
The Ni-Vanuatu are the Melanesian people, a chain of 83 islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Each island has its own distinct languages, customs, and traditions. They hold an annual three-day Toka festival on the island of Tanna, considered as one of the most significant traditional celebrations of Vanuatu. The event, which used to mark the end of a tribal war, is nowadays a symbol of alliance and friendship between warring tribal groups. During this ceremony, up to two thousand participants attempt to outdo each other with their lavish gifts, dancing skills, and ornate make-up.
Maori people of new Zealand:
Legend holds that each tribe arrived to an island in separate canoes from their homeland in Polynesia. These journeys established the Maori as daring and resourceful adventurers and as great navigators. Due to centuries of isolation from the rest of the world, the people of Maori established a distinct society with characteristic art, a distinct language, and unique mythology. There are currently around 650,000 Maori all together in New Zealand who fully participate in modern New Zealand culture but also maintain their own traditional customs. Even today, most Maori people can tell which original tribe they descend from.
The people of Leh Ladakh:
Meaning “land of the passes“, the Ladakh people live in valleys between the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges in India. During their immigration from Tibet over one thousand years ago, the Ladakh largely overwhelmed the local culture and established roots in Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The Ladakhi royal family can trace its lineage back to 300 B.C. and still lives in Leh, but the family’s presence as a ruling force has been mostly symbolic since India’s independence in 1947. They are remarkable for their rich folklore, remarkable songs and legends, some of which date back to the pre-Buddhist era.
This indigenous population of Papua New Guinea is known as one of the most heterogeneous in the world. The natives are believed to have first migrated to the island more than 45,000 years ago. One of the oldest tribes, the Asaro, cover themselves in mud, wear masks, and often brandish spears.
The Mursi People of Ethiopia:
The Mursi tribe lives in Africa’s Great Rift Valley in southwest Ethiopia near the Kenyan border. Numbering to about four thousand, the nomadic tribes of herdsmen have their own Surmic language, Mursi, and practice many distinguishing rituals. These include lip plating to increase the worth of a girl at marriage and young tribesmen to qualify for marriage or own cattle by facing a unique dare, known as the “bull-leaping” ceremony. In this ritual, cows are lined up in a row and the boy, naked, is required to make four clean runs over the back of the cows without falling.
Most famously, Mursi women are known for wearing clay plates in their lower lips. At the age of 15, girls receive lip piercings, after which their lips are stretched out to create enough space to place the lip plate. History says the plates were invented to make Mursi women less attractive to slave traders.
Hope this travel around the world was worth it.
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