Exclusive Edition of 18

fine art prints by National Geographic photographer Matthieu Paley

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Alda, Rus & Burgut

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Alda, her husband Rus with their 3-year-old golden eagle in their Kazakh yurt. Bayan Őlgii province is in the far west of Mongolia and is predominantly populated by Kazakh. They have bigger yurts than Mongols. Even in the most remote areas,  yurts today have electricity, a solar panel resting on the roof, a TV in the corner.

Atom Bu

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Atom Bu, daughter of the Khan, carries a pair of lambs to be reunited with their mothers for the night. On especially cold days the vulnerable young animals are kept warm in cloth bags hung in the herders’ huts.

Ayeem

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Ayeem Khan wears boots borrowed from her father and the red veil of an unmarried Kyrgyz girl to be traded for a white one when she weds. Twice a day she milks the family’s yaks; some milk curd will be dried for use in winter, when yaks give less.

Bulunkou

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The Pamir mountains, partly wrapped in sand dunes, rise above Bulunkou reservoir, in Xinjiang, China. We were traveling by bus on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), the highest paved road in the world and the only ground transport link between China and Pakistan.

Chimi

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I processed the film few months after returning from Mongolia. It was the first time one of my photographs surprised me — something abstract to it that I did not control. I tried to get it back, that did not work out. But other things happened. After her morning session milking the yaks, Chimi looks at me, her sister twirls in the back. Near the Zagastain Davaa, or Fish Tail Pass. I used an old Nikon camera with a waist viewer.

Ech Keli I

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“The Pamir mountains are one of the bleakest and least known corners of the world: remote, mysterious and, at one time, dubbed the third pole.” – A quote from a magnificent book: “Mountains of the Gods” by Ian Cameron. After a 3-day snow storm, a yak caravan returns to Ech Keli camp in the Afghan Pamir. Wakhan Corridor.

Iqbal II

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Fifteen year-old Iqbal has been married for two months. Today is the veil ceremony, where she will exchange her childhood crimson veil for a married woman’s white headdress. She struggles and cries as the older women around her get ready to fasten the white veil on her head.

Qyzyl Qorum I


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Tella Bu and her sisters head out early morning to a spring, a short walk away from the Khan’s camp. Of course, it had frozen hard overnight, so they broke the ice with a metal bar. Then they filled the buckets and load them on the family camel, back to camp to make tea.

Shemzhid


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On the border with Siberia, a Mongolian girl has put her best outfit, her “deel”. This traditional clothing is typical of Mongolia and other ethnic groups in Siberia.

Sidol, Jumagul, Assan I

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I walked away from my tent, to a higher place for better reception. The sat phone rang and my wife was on the line. There she was – from another world.

I saw them coming from below, in line, dust flying. They reminded me of some Hell’s Angels on their motorcycles, except way cooler. Sidol, Jumagul and Assan Khan were just back from checking the growth of grass at lower elevations. That grass will be used for animal fodder in the winter months. They drove those 1000-kilogram beasts with incredible skill down steep valleys and across rivers, blissfully unaware of their cool factor.

Tash Seri


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The yurt, the ultimate nomadic dwelling of the steppes of Central Asia, can withstand blizzards in some of the world’s most inhospitable places. Made of felt, it takes a couple of hours to fold up, load it up on yaks and move to the next camp. Pamir mountains.

Tav Burgut


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Running after those eagle-hunters in the early morning. It was October, they were on their way to a hunter’s gathering, each with his eagle resting on his right arm, as one does. Shot on medium format.

Töö I


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A Bactrian camel sits out a snow storm. These beasts of nature are native to the steppes of Central Asia where they have been used as pack animals along the Silk Road since ancient times. They have an incredible tolerance for cold, high altitude or drought and belong to a small group of animals that regularly eat snow to provide their water needs. The latent heat of snow and ice is enormous compared with the heat capacity of water, demanding a large sacrifice in heat energy and forcing animals to eat only small amounts at a time.