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The Last Vestiges of Tradition: Mongolia

One might presume that images similar to the ones here are to be found everywhere in Mongolia but they’re not; it should be noted that the country is rapidly changing. While several traditions of course still exist, many nomads are rapidly adopting a more Western lifestyle. Traditional garb is being swapped for jeans (and yes, baseball caps). They have Facebook and Instagram on their latest iPhones. Motorbikes are regularly preferred over their horses. And yet, like an endangered animal on the verge of extinction, rare and beautiful scenes like these still exist, but only if you go hunting for them.

Published November 30, 2016 | Featured in

Country: Mongolia

Tags: ,

Words and Photography by Thai Neave

A boy wearing traditional Mongolian dress with a modern baseball cap with the plains stretching behind him
A boy wearing traditional Mongolian dress with a modern baseball cap. He skillfully ascended a steep hill before riding along the ridge towards his grandparents’ Ger (yurt).
The sprawl of Ulaanbaatar's shanty towns and high rise buildings in the distance
The sprawl of Ulaanbaatar taken from the outskirts of the city.
A pair of girl contortionists standing on their hands performing splits in the air with their legs, Mongolia
A performance by Tumen Ekh ensemble, one of Mongolia’s traditional performance groups.
A solitary basketball hoop in the barren countryside with a stream running in the foreground and hills in the distance, Mongolia
Isolated basketball hoops appear in the countryside. This was taken about three hours east of Ulaanbaatar.
A local elder in a hat and holding a cigarette about to puff it, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
A local elder in Ulaanbaatar.
A row of traditional mostly curved Mongolian knives in their scabbards on a table
A roadside stall selling traditional Mongolian knives.
Close-up of an eagle's head showing its piercing eye and curved beak
Hunting with eagles is a traditional form of falconry found throughout the Eurasian steppe. I saw this eagle at the side of the road while heading out of Ulaanbaatar.
A broadly smiling boy, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
A boy selling clothes at a market in Ulaanbaatar.
A giant sized statue of Genghis Khan drawing his sword on a horse atop a round building with a pathway leading up the knoll to it
Legend has it that the Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue sits on the site where he found a golden whip in the 13th century.
A close-up of Tseren Tsegmid's rugged face
Tseren Tsegmid is one of Mongolia’s most acclaimed actors. I met him on set for the movie Burn Your Maps.
A boy in a baseball cap and jacket in a field with goats behind him to the distance
A 10-year-old Mongolian goat herder tending the herd entirely on his own.
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