fine art prints by National Geographic photographer Matthieu Paley

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Abdul Aziz


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.


To The Snow

Ajar’s family are all blue-eyed. I was always amazed to feel a familiarity in people’s faces amongst Wakhi people, who live in the Pamir mountains, right next to the border with China. I find it fascinating to consider the implications on human migration. Think of our history, of all the ancient paths that have been taken to reach every corner of the earth, all the drama and excitement that must have taken place (and still is taking place!).


Lost Highway

Every day, Ajit walks from his village to the top of a slope on the highway, where trucks are forced to drive at a snail’s pace. He waves, and the driver might just throw a coin to him out of the window.

“That’s how I make my living. Simple … and nothing else”, he says.

Alda, Rus & Burgut

From the SteppesInstagram

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.


Lost Highway

We slept in Amarkantak overnight, the source of the holy Narmada river—a stream at this stage. A pilgrim passed on the other side, the beginning of a 3-year walk. I invited him for tea, he kindly declined. Pilgrims are not allowed to cross the river, even once.



High above the tree line, a winter caravan of Kyrgyz nomads relies on sure-footed yaks to traverse a treacherous path down to the lower valley. At altitudes above 14,000 feet (4300m), winters in the Little Pamir last eight months or more, and snow can fall even in summer.

Atom Bu


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.



We hiked for eight hours straight, with the full moon rising behind us. Here is Passu village and its glacier, seen from the Avdegar winter pasture (4000m). The Karakoram Highway snakes its way through the landscape. A memorable night sleeping out in the open. Karakoram, Pakistan.



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.


To The Snow

Green-eyed Gul returning from school. Wakhi girls are privileged in the sense that getting education is a priority among this Ismaili community. The Aga Khan, their spiritual leader says the following: “If you have 2 children, a boy and a girl, but not enough money to educate both kids: give education in priority to the girl – as a future mother, the girl will be the one later educating your grand children…” Sarhad Village, Wakhan Corridor.


InstagramTo The Snow

One of this white out days where I couldn’t stay in. Momo, a young shepherd working for the Khan family, takes a group of Bactrian camels out of camp. Used for their wool, milk and transportation, Bactrian camels are the most prized animals of the nomadic Afghan Kyrgyz of the High Pamir – the world’s remotest high altitude community.

Bakh Shoh


We met the day before, he was cutting barley with his sisters and uncles. I returned early morning, walking near his home, wanting in… Bakh Shoh again! His resting face, waiting for tea. But then he could crack up and laugh, or do quick dance moves, listening to his little orange radio. Then back to resting face. Can you imagine? It’s a photographer’s luxury to pick a moment, yet know there is more to it. In fact there is always more to it.


From the SteppesInstagram

We trekked into the Basho valley in Baltistan province and eventually reached a high pasture. All was quiet except for a swooshing sound. His dad was churning milk inside the hut. Peacefully he sat, just back from herding the goats.

Binod Yasin

Lost Highway

I saw him at the last second and had to reverse the car to get back to him. He was covered in blankets. Two different shoes. No bag, no water. “My name is Binod Yasin, I am walking ahead.”

“But Binod is a Hindu name and Yasin is a Muslim name?” I asked, slightly confused at the combination of the two.

“Yes. Does it matter? We are all under one,” he replied.


From the SteppesInstagram

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.



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.