Before They Pass Away – Part 3

This is the third and final part about Jimmy Nelson’s anthropological photographic project Before They Pass Away, which seeks to document vanishing tribes all over the world. You can find out more about the project in my first two posts here and here. I did want to share this quote by Jimmy Nelson about the book, created as a result for the project, which moves away the problematic idea of primitivism and exoticism.

“The book is a catalyst for change, a museum of knowledge. Not one filled with masks and spears and feathers, but a place of learning.”

On to my favourites from the final 9 tribes…

The Banna, approximately 45,000 in number, are a mainly agricultural people who inhabit the highlands east of the Omo River…To prepare for a ceremony, they paint themselves with white chalk mixed with yellow rock, red iron ore and charcoal.”


The Karo were known for their magnificent houses (when still rich in cattle) but after they lost their wealth, they adopted the much lighter conical huts. Every Karo family owns two houses: the Ono, the principal living room of the family, and the Gappa, the centre of several household activities.”


The Hamar have been influenced by evangelist missionaries and are Muslim by name. Traditional Animism is also still practised. The tribes now share a polytheist mixture of beliefs.”


“There are serious concerns about the impact of a gigantic dam (on the Arbore tribe), currently under construction. It will produce much-needed electricity, but at the same time reduce the river’s flow and tame the seasons of flood and retreat. The fencing of game parks is another threat, restricting the access of the local tribes people.”


“Baliem Valley is situated 1600 metres above sea level in the midst of the Jayawijaya mountain range of Papua Indonesia. The Dani live in the actual valley. They are farmers and use an efficient irrigation system. Archaeological finds prove that the valley has been farmed for 9,000 years.”


“One of the tribes inhabiting the Baliem Valley region, in the midst of the Jayawijaya mountain range of Papua Indonesia, is the Yali ‘Lords of the Earth’. They live in the virgin forests of the highlands. The Yali are officially recognised as pygmies, with men standing at just 150 cm tall.”


“South of the Jayawijaya mountain range of Papua Indonesiais a large area of lowland. The area accommodates a myriad of rivers forming swamps, wetlands and mangrove forests. It’s the habitat of the Korowai, a tribe that until the early 1970s, believed that they were the only humans on earth.”


The Nenets are reindeer herders, migrating across the Yamal peninsula, thriving for more then a millennium with temperatures from minus 50°C in winter to 35°C in summer. Their annual migration of over a 1000 km includes a 48 km crossing of the frozen waters of the Ob River.”


“When the Maasai migrated from the Sudan in the 15th century, they attacked the tribes they met along the way and raided cattle. By the end of their journey, they had taken over almost all of the land in the Rift Valley. To be a Maasai is to be born into one of the last great warrior cultures. “



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One Response to Before They Pass Away – Part 3

  1. Okay, so I wanted the book until I saw it was $8000! Yikes. Sure it’s worth every penny but hopefully at some point he will release a more accessible version. Thanks again for the introduction to this fabulous work, I love your blog!

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