Neighbors help take down a ger (yurt) on moving day. The family will move from their winter camp near a rock wall to their spring camp close to a river. The structure of the ger is so perfectly suited for nomadic life that its design hasn't been altered in 1,000 years.
A ger (yurt) in the parched and dusty Gobi landscape near the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine. Many of the animals in the area have become sick due to the dust that has kicked up from constant truck traffic shipping coal from the mine to China.
Mongolia has traditionally been known as a sheep-herding country. Even today the average herder owns more sheep than any other animal to supply the national demand for mutton. Mongolia ranks third in the world for the number of sheep per capita.
A herder holding his gun and wearing his finest leather-and-silver belt stands for a portrait near his ger (yurt) in the Gobi. Historian and anthropologist Jack Weatherford says traditionally only men wore sashes or belts over their deel (robes) and this was a symbol of manhood.
Monks in Ulaanbaatar take part in a traditional Tsam ritual. Tsam rituals consist of a series of masked dances and are often accompanied by narrated content. In Mongolia, like most other religious rituals, Tsam was banned during Soviet times. Now, this small monastery and a mask maker named Ganna are working to bring the practice back.
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Mongolian pastoral herders make up one of the world’s last remaining nomadic cultures. For millennia they have lived on the steppes, grazing their livestock on the lush grasslands. But today, their traditional way of life is at risk on multiple fronts. Alongside a rapidly changing economic landscape, climate change and desertification are also threatening nomadic life, killing both herds and grazing land. Due to severe winters and poor pasture, many thousands of herders have traded in their centuries-old way of life for employment in mining towns and urban areas. Most herders who stay on the steppe push their children to pursue education and get jobs in the cities believing that pastoral nomadism is no longer a secure or sustainable way of life.