Open Edition

fine art prints by National Geographic photographer Matthieu Paley

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Abdul Aziz

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After ten days without meeting anyone, we came across this nomadic tent on the edge of the Lut desert. Abdul Aziz, the campement chief, sat next to his home under the stars, later offering me a golden pen. His tent felt like an extension of the hills in the distance.

Amur Turchin


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Thirteen year old Amur Turchin rides home. We were staying with his parents in a yurt. In Mongolia, they say children often ride horses before they can walk. Zavkhan Province

Bökh

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I finally got the eyes closed. The intimacy of the outfit, the expression, the touching, not what one assimilates with wrestling. It’s all out there. Wrestling is one of Mongolia’s age-old ‘Three Manly Skills’, along with horsemanship and archery – it’s called Bökh. Before a match, tradition dictates that the wrestler must keep one hand on his trainer’s shoulders and circle around him a few times with his eyes closed. Respect. Khövsgöl Province.

Chaqmaqtin


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Near the frozen Chaqmaqtin lake, a herd of yak grazes below the Pamir mountains. Incredibly adaptable animals, they push snow with their hooves to feed on the wintery brown grass.

Daryo Boi

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Early morning with Daryo Boi. Everyone calls him Momo, he is the shepherd hired by the khan (the community’s chief), here in his work outfit shortly after the herd left the coral (sheep pen). Love the details in the fabric.

Eva


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It was the middle of winter in Siberia. A horse rider, she took a break near the hills surrounding Baikal Lake.

Juma Boi II

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The last chicken: Er Ali Boi tried to breed chicken in his camp, but at 4200 meters his enterprise wasn’t a success, except for the entertainment it brought to his nephew, the young Juma Boi.

Khudo Boz


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It was midday. A couple of weeks of altitude trekking and simple food got me lethargic; i laid under a tree. Khudo Boz came by, all ready to cut barley, asked if I wanted to join. I lifted my camera, his outfit revealing years of hard work.

Nik Station


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We stopped the old Russian jeep, a UAZ. There it was, a petrol station, protected with a lightning rod, sitting all alone in the empty steppe of the Gobi desert.

Rakaposhi I


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Rakaposhi is a gem of a mountain. I always peek at the top, hoping to see someone move up there. Down below in Minapin village, water channels bring glacial waters, turning rubble into an oasis.

Soronabod

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Above the village of Passu, a teenager checks his Facebook. Many residents here are Ismaili, followers of a moderate branch of Islam. A sign on the mountain slope commemorates the time in 1987, when the Ismaili imam, the Aga Khan, visited this remote region.

 

Tsast Uul

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I peeked out the tent to see this. We had  just trekked up Tsast Uul, one of the highest mountains in Mongolia. You would think we were alone, but in Mongolia horse riders would spot our tent from miles away and spontaneously stick their heads inside, just like we would walk into their gers.

Wuruchan


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The first time I saw someone smoking opium. I was hesitant to photograph. The younger son of the Khan, Wuruchan Noor Ullah, the ‘king’ of the Kyrgyz. It was raining outside, he was just back from patrolling the Tajik border, some yaks had gone missing, strolling into another country. Afghanistan.

Yimit


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It was one of these covered days that I like very much. They invited me in, a wedding was happening next door and I needed a break. They had pulled a blanket in front of their door to keep the guests warm.