fine art prints by National Geographic photographer Matthieu Paley

Showing 65–96 of 109 results

Pegish I


Pegich kept circling the flames, busy as she was, mending the fire, preparing diner. The wife of Er Ali Boi, she is named after the Wakhi village she was born in, a week walk down the valley. Most Afghan Kyrgyz woman have their blouses decorated with shiny pretty things – trinkets gathered over the years, as well as with old family heirlooms.

Qach Baig


That light in Wakhi homes, it’s a gift. Large central opening on the roof, no windows, dark backdrop of soot, years of making open fire…and the ladies having a tea break in the middle of winter.

Qyzyl Qorum I


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.

Rakaposhi I


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.

Rakaposhi II


Rakaposhi, also known as Dumani (“Mother of Mist”) in North Pakistan, is the 27th highest mountain in the world (7788 m – 25.551 ft). Measured from base to summit, it has an uninterrupted ~6000 meters vertical rise which, in a way, makes it the tallest free standing mountain in the world. It was first climbed by a British-Pakistani team in 1958 – and not many times after that. I remember how stunned I was the first time I saw this giant popping out of the landscape – I didn’t know what mountains were before I saw that.



Samarkand cleans the house of evil spirits by putting grains of spandr on top of hot amber. Spandr (in Wakhi language) is a local mountain herb called esfand in English. Its seeds have seen continual use for thousands of years in the rites of many cultures. All over the remote mountain world, from Buddhists temples to Sufi shrines, I have witnessed rituals associated with similar plants like the burning of Juniper started long ago by shamans of Siberia and American Indians.



In the morning, women gather to get water. Even in winter, it never freezes thanks to underground thermal activities. In the distance, that pass leads towards the Karakoram. On the left, over the frozen Wakhan river up into the Pamir mountains, the roof of the world.

Sarhad Scree


I had never seen such a huge scree. Down below, horsemen made their way to a wedding. This is the Wakhan Corridor, an old branch of the Silk Road and Alexander the Great and Marco Polo probably looked up this mountain when they passed here in ancient times.



Sayeed Sardar was cold, he lifted his coat. The brother of the spiritual leader, he is a well respected and smart man. He remembered my name, but I had forgotten his, felt ashamed, he laughed! I had bought a donkey from his cousin 3 years earlier.



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.



Hot springs are precious… what a gift to have hot water year round. Ato Mohammed and his dad, shortly before walking back home down the valley to their village. Looking at their faces, it’s 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).

Sidol, Jumagul, Assan I


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.

Song Köl I


The silky rolling hills around Song Köl, viewed as we approached it from the North. Shot with my medium format camera. We camped on the edge of it. I trekked with my friend Gilemon. He got sunburned, had altitude sickness and then his shoes started to hurt his feet! It was so bad that he ended the trek wearing his flip-flops.



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.


Tash Seri


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


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.