MAY 23, 2020 AT 01:43 AM
In today’s increasingly technological world, historic cultures struggle to retain their heritage. This ancient heritage is what makes the Dukha people of Mongolia so unique. Living in the same region for centuries, this nomadic tribe has developed an amazing relationship with the reindeer that share their territory.
Thanks to photographer Hamid Sardar-Afkhami, his trip to this lost tribe brings their rich culture to life through his visually stunning photos.
Over time, the ancient Dukha people have developed a strong bond with the local reindeer. They use the animals to navigate the treacherous terrain of their native land.
When their children are very young, the Dukha teach them how to train reindeer. This skill is critical as it’s impossible to survive in this area without it.
The reindeer are gentle creatures and make wonderful companions even to the youngest Dukha children. They’re used for transportation, kept as pets, and even used as pillows.
A young girl gets ready to bathe and clean a baby reindeer. All children are taught to raise and care for reindeer and respect them as fellow creatures.
The Dukha are also called the “Tsaatan,” meaning “reindeer herder”. Today, only 44 Dukha families remain, which is approximately 200-400 people. Unfortunately, the reindeer population is also diminishing.
The tourist industry provides the Dukha their main source of income. Tourists pay for performances, crafts, and reindeer rides.
The Dukha earn abut two US dollars by hunting small animals like rabbits. They also train golden eagles to help with hunting.
The Dukha consider eagle hunting a privilege. Those skilled at it are high-respected by the tribe. They also help feed their families during difficult periods.
The Dukha honor spiritual connection with all animals. This allows them to feel comfortable in nature and sustain their culture despite the encroaching influence of the modern world.