Cooler Than Us: Tibetan Nomads

A Tibetan Nomad. From National Geographic Vol.175 No. 6 – June 1989

I don’t want to trivialize the difficult complexities of the Tibetan diaspora by saying things like “this guy is cooler than we’ll ever be!” But – just this once, forgive me – this guy is cooler than we’ll ever be. I mean, look at him. He will hack your system, friends. With his mind.

This arresting National Geographic image of a Tibetan nomad on the Riotclitshave photo blog prompted me to search around for more information and images on Tibetan nomads. I found an incredible series of black and white portraits from 2001 taken by Daniel Miller, a story about the Tibetan nomads’ adoption of motorcycles on the NYT, and a great image gallery on BBC. Here are my favorite quotes from the BBC gallery, accompanied by images:

This unique community continues to dwindle under the Chinese regime. Government policy aims to settle more and more nomads into these faceless-looking settlements, and according to the BBC, the transition to this lifestyle is difficult for most.

13 Responses to “Cooler Than Us: Tibetan Nomads”

  1. Marina Says:

    Nadya, thanks for posting this.

    I just watched Sergey Dvortsevoy’s Tulpan at Film Forum last night. More dessert dwellers there – the shepherds of the Kazakh steppe. I hope this great, great film comes to Los Angeles or will otherwise become accessible to more people.

  2. Fritz Bogott Says:

    Sweet Jesus, I now have a new sartorial lodestar.

  3. Jon Munger Says:

    Steampunk *this*, suckas.

  4. Ragdoll Says:

    There were some movies that I have seen lately that remind me of this, such as Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (2004) and Mongol (2007) with Tananobu Asano, where I discovered the beauty of Mongolian Muslim dress.

  5. Vivacious G Says:

    Fantastic shot.

  6. Kale Kip Says:

    A couple of years ago I was hiking through Bulgaria. Near the North border with Romania and Serbia there’s basically an area where nobody wants to live because there’s hardly a functioning economy. During the Bosnian war 14 years ago, large groups of gypsies fled into that area and managed to establish a sort of permanent residence there, because nobody drove them out.
    So what you can see there in the local ghetto’s is a revival of a gypsy culture that has been under permanent attack for centuries.

    There’s houses with windows made out of car parts, horses living on top floors while families are living below, half trailers sticking out of houses as balconies, horse carts made of car wrecks, kids rushing down hills on the weirdest constructions made of old bikes and again car parts (Lada is their favorite brand).
    Everything is covered in ornamental fringes and filth, the smell of burning plastic is omnipresent and when night falls, some sort of rubbery smog fills the muddy streets. And seriously, these guys make everything out of brass. They also happened to have stolen my camera, so I can’t upload any pictures. But if anybody on this site has the opportunity, go there!

  7. Skerror Says:

    @Kale Kip: “They also happened to have stolen my camera, so I can’t upload any pictures. But if anybody on this site has the opportunity, go there!” — That might be the best travel pitch I’ve ever heard :)

    This guy looks like he’s about to bitch-slap Luke Skywalker’s hover-car in half.

  8. beesknees Says:

    I recently read Namma: A Tibetan Love Story. It gives a fascinating first-hand account of Tibetan life from a Western womans experience.

  9. Bean Says:

    I love you guys. <3

  10. Kale Kip Says:

    Here is the style I was talking about:

    This is what happens when gypsies actually have the money to build big houses. When they don’t, they use their creativity (and an old Lada) to get the job done.

  11. tyhiliet Says:

    I would so kill for those boots. Thanks for the share . Some point int the near future I Will re visit this page to replicate said boots.

    much love

  12. Larissa Says:

    “At night, right before bed, we howl into the dark to remind would-be thieves, wolves and local hungry ghosts to stay away from our herds.”

    I can relate. Some nights, I do the same thing in my neighborhood. It seems to work quite well.

  13. Steph Says:

    I KNEW you guys would do something on this.

    This is amazing.