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    1 Oct 2015

    Meet The Tsaatan Nomads In Mongolia Who Live Like No One Else (24 Pics)

    Tsaatan people move from one place to another without establishing any permanent settlements during the year

    A residential group consisting of several families is called “olal-lal” (meaning “them” in the Tsaatan language). They usually refer to a specific group by the name of a representative member.

    The sense of their community is structured around the reindeer, they are dependent on one another. Tsaatans say that if the reindeer disappear, so too will their culture

    Reindeer pelts are used for making winter coats. Bags, mats for travelling, and shoes are also made from the skin. Material for shoes is taken from the skin on the reindeer’s shin. Reindeer antlers are ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine and have been supplied to China since 1975.

    Tuvshinbayar & Ulziisaihan

    Tsaatan communities are usually a group of tents of two to seven households that move camp to find optimum grazing for the reindeer that are treated like family members and shown respect

    The reindeer are domesticated and belong to the household. The community’s chores and activities are centred around the care and feeding of their reindeer. Herding tasks are shared amongst the camp with children at a young age learning to care for the reindeer and keeping them safe.

    They live in yurts made primarily of birch bark that look like the tepees of Native-Americans

    Families of the same olal-lal set up tents close to one another and collaborate in livestock herding. We visited the Tsaatan people at the end of June, when they had settled at their summer spot. Its altitude is around 2300 m.

    Inside the Tsaatan tent

    Bolorma is boiling milk to make cheese that the family needs to feed themselves

    Narahuu and Bolorma, husband and wife

    Full family posing proudly with some of their reindeer

    Ulziisaihan and Ulziitsetseg, daughters of Narahuu & Bolorma

    Other members of the family living at the camp: Bayrsaïhan, Chagtan, Baagii and Nuuru

    Every evening, more than 100 reindeer return to the camp after a long day walking through the Ulaan taïga to find some food

    These were so unforgettable moments to see them coming back, every night, as a gracious army on the horizon, with their antlers dancing in the air.

    Tsaatan selfie in the Ulaan taïga with Bayrsaïhan

    Cutting wood for the daily needs

    Tuvshinbayar is playing with the reindeer

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    Running after the reindeer by sunset to bring them back to the camp for milking

    The girls and younger women do the milking and make yoghurt, cheese, and milk tea

    Narahuu’s aunt is offering us a bowl of Suutei tsai, the traditional salty milk tea

    Ulziichimig, the youngest daughter of the family, is about to wake and tease her sister

    Sunset over the Ulaan Taïga

    Because of the cold climate throughout the year, open grasslands spread across the high steppe. Reindeer cannot handle the heat well, so they must be pastured in high plains in the summer.

    Tsaatan people believe that their ancestors’ ghosts live on in the forest as animals that give guidance to the living, so they practice Shamanism, a religion based on nature worship

    The Shamanistic practices among Tsaatans differ from those of other Shamanistic religions in the region. Shaman worship among the Tsaatan people is thought to represent the oldest variant of Shamanism practiced by Mongolian nomads. Not only do they worship their Shaman, but they have many mystical holy books as well, and use many different treatises in their daily lives, including those for hunting and for calling or banishing the rain.

    Baagii wearing the Tsaatan traditional dress which is characterized by hats like those of the Khalkh people, and wide deels (traditional Mongolian overcoats)

    They wear strong, warm boots fashioned from the hides and sinew of their reindeer. These boots are known for their quality of workmanship and are very expensive to purchase.

    Sunset on the camp

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