Jimmy Nelson is a photographer who’s made it his mission to discover and record the world’s most secluded tribes, before their way of life slowly fades away. His work is called Before They Pass Away, and it’s a long-term project that he hopes will be “a body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world”.
These photos offer a glimpse into a life many of us will be unfamiliar with.
The Tsaatan people herd reindeer, and they have been doing so for thousands of years in the remotest of subarctic conditions. At last count, just over 40 Tsaatan families remain.
The Samburu herd cattle and are constantly on the move. They reached modern day Kenya some five hundred years ago.
Spread across 85 islands, there is evidence to suggest this tribe has existed since as long ago as 500 BC.
The kingdom of Mustang was very similar to Tibet, but as Tibetan culture faces extinction, so does the legacy of Mustang. Interestingly enough, it was only until after 1991 that outsiders were allowed to enter Mustang.
There are only around 2,500 Drokpas still currently alive, and they are scattered across villages between India and Pakistan.
Nicknamed the ‘Lords of the Earth’, the Yali are one of the few tribes that inhabit the forests of Western New Guinea. Their men are famous for being unusually short, standing at just 150 cm tall.
These descendants of the Huns and Mongol tribes that ruled the world in the past, live today as nomadic people that ride in the valleys and mountains of Mongolia.
The Himba are an ancient tribe of tall and slender herders that have lived and survived in some of the harshest environments since the 16th century.
These mysterious inhabitants of Papua New Guinea are scattered throughout the lands and have often been found in conflict with competing tribes.
Like the Humi, the Asaro also live in small tribes, scattered across the West Papua highlands, with their own language, tradition and customs. The Asaro mudmen were discovered relatively recently, at some point between the past 50-100 years.
One of the most heterogeneous and isolated tribes in the world, largely as a result of extreme living conditions and constant warfare with rival tribes.