Monday, August 27, 2018

Visiting the Nomads in Tibet

I visited nomads in Tibet, but most probably these were semi-nomads with a concrete home somewhere, who are moving with the yaks and goat to where the pastures are. They camped near the road, where they can travel with bikes and tractors to their distant (?) homes and go uphill with the animals. 

Nomadism is adapted to extensive use of the land, mostly in the high altitude plains and steppes/tundra. There might be about two millions of nomads and semi-nomads in Tibet, but no one knows the exact number. Nomadism of course is a nightmare to central governments and bureaucrats, not only in China. How could children go to school? How can you make nomads pay taxes? How to provide health care? I’ve seen a ruinous dental status in the few nomads, I’ve been able to see from close by.

The nomads live in tents made of yak wool, which contains lots of oil, but rain may get into the tent as smoke gets out of the tent in case it doesn’t have a pipe. Most of the year there is hardly any rain.
Nomads might also profit from the extensive mobile net. As meat is valued, nomads might also earn enough money for modern transport, communication and traditional luxury items like silver and turquoise. 

I would have liked to see the pastoralists in the severe environment of Western Tibet, where extreme altitude is the rule as well as problems in transportation / road conditions. But I didn’t go this far west. And let’s not forget that nomadism is void of romanticism.

Tibetan mastiff - not only watching the fuel

Tibetan woman weaving

Inside a tent 

The yellow painted cask is used to churn butter

Around 3000 m altitude - 
nomads near the woodlands (2009)

Mountain and plains at an altitude of around 4800 m

Nomads in the Zagros mountains of Iran
elevation around 2500 m

This Iranian tent doesn't look 
so much different to the Tibetan tents



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