Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Floating Basket Homes of Iraq


Marsh Arab Village

It was Iraq’s ‘Garden of Eden’; unique wetlands in southern Iraq where a people known as the Ma’dan, or ‘Arabs of the marsh’, lived in a Mesopotamian Venice, characterised by beautifully elaborate floating houses made entirely of reeds harvested from the open water.

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Amazons: inside the King of Dahomey’s all-woman army

A Blast From The Past

One of Dahomeys’ amazons, with a musket, club, dagger—and her enemy’s severed head. From Forbes, Dahomy and the Dahomans (1851).

It is noon on a humid Saturday in the fall of 1861, and a missionary by the name of Francesco Borghero has been summoned to a parade ground in Abomey, the capital of the small West African state of Dahomey. He is seated on one side of a huge, open square right in the center of the town–Dahomey is renowned as a “Black Sparta,” a fiercely militaristic society bent on conquest, whose soldiers strike fear into their enemies all along what is still known as the Slave Coast. The maneuvers begin in the face of a looming downpour, but King Glele is eager to show off the finest unit in his army to his European guest.

As Father Borghero fans himself, 3,000 heavily armed soldiers march into the square…

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In the cave of the witches

A Blast From The Past

A photo sometimes said to depict members of Chiloé’s murderous society of warlocks—founded, so they claimed, in 1786 and destroyed by the great trial of 1880-81.

There is a place in South America that was once the end of the earth. It lies close to the 35th parallel, where the Maule River empties into the Pacific Ocean, and in the first years of the 16th century it marked the spot at which the Empire of the Incas ended and a strange and unknown world began.

South of the Maule, the Incas thought, lay a land of mystery and darkness. It was a place where the Pacific’s waters chilled and turned from blue to black, and where indigenous peoples struggled to claw the basest of livings from a hostile environment. It was also where the witches lived and evil came from. The Incas called this land “the Place of Seagulls.”


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The Tibetan Nomads of Tso Kar

nomadruss in words and photos

On our way around Tso Kar, towards a small nomadic camp, we passed a nomad carrying what appeared to be the carcass of a goat. When he joined us in a tent the next day he explained the story. His goat had been attacked by an eagle, and then subsequently by a Tibetan wolf. He had fought them bought off and carried the carcass back to camp. They weren’t going to make off with it. Such is the life of a nomad, or least the story as it was related to me.

A Tibetan nomadic group, consisting of around 6 families, lives along the Southwestern shores of Tso Kar lake from late spring into early summer. The fierce mountain winds can certainly make life cold and challenging, but it’s a simple life, and a good life for them. Life largely revolves around taking care of goats, milking them for milk…

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A Tibetan Settlement on Ladakh’s Changtang Plateau

nomadruss in words and photos

After Sumdho, the road begins a subtle ascent past sulfurous hot springs and grasslands with salt lakes that bring in gulls, black necked cranes, and other migratory birds. I was looking out the left hand side of the jeep when I saw a young boy all alone on the plains. Initially I was alarmed at such a prospect, until I turned to the other side and saw that we’d arrived at the village of Puga. Puga is another seasonal camp of Tibetan nomadic refugees. Tents lie along a rutted strip of asphalt that eventually crosses a high pass leading to Tso Kar Lake, where we’ll head in the next post.

Along with my two traveling companions, we stopped in the village to discuss future first aid training through a local non-government organization, Through it all I was able to continue documenting some of the daily life of these…

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Ladakh – In Two Views (from the archives)

nomadruss in words and photos

This week we’ll delve into the archives and take a look at one of my favorite places on the planet, Ladakh, India. Ladakh is located in the Himalayan mountains, adjacent to the Tibetan plateau. This post was the result of digging through the archives before returning to Ladakh, from where I’m posting this.

A view from outside and inside Thiksey Monastery

Two views of women on the Changtang Plateau

Two views of competition – Polo in Leh and Archery competition during the Ladakh Festival

Two views of women with peraks, the traditional Ladakhi headdress.

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Sumdho on Ladakh’s Changtang Plateau

nomadruss in words and photos

High on Ladakh’s Changtang plateau are Tibetan refugee settlements in which Tibetan nomadic herdsman live. The Changtang plateau extends from Tibet into the northwestern region of India and rests at altitudes from 14,500 to 19,000 feet. It is a land of high desert and beautifully scenic lakes. A harsh land with short summers and long, arctic-like winters, the Tibetan refugees have been able to make a living, mostly by raising sheep and goats. This week we’ll take a look at one settlement called Sumdho.

Ideally, photography is about light. In this case I shot in this village only at dusk, night, and dawn, and had none of the epic light that you’d want. I considered scrapping this post all together, but I thought it still had merit. Sometimes when you’re traveling you’re only in a place for dusk and dawn and the skies are not epic, so here’s a post…

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The Native American – The Jicarilla Apache

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Physical Virginity Tests in Africa!!!!!!

To all Ladies out there – anyone of you dare to take this tests ??????????Thousands of girls in South Africa are queuing up each month to prove that they are virgins, reviving an African tradition seen by many as the answer to the scourge of AIDS.Bare-breasted teenagers wearing nothing but strings of beads and colourful loincloths regularly submit to the ordeal of having a stranger check if their hymens are intact, leaping for joy when the test confirms that they are still virgins.

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Acaté’s Dr. David Fleck Interview with Mongabay

In an interview with noted conservation journalist Rhett A. Butler, Dr. David Fleck, Acaté’s Field Coordinator, talks about his history of living with the Matsés people in the deep Amazon rainforest. Fleck shares his perspective of life in the Amazon, its threats, and Acaté’s work. Originally posted here.

Tribes in the Amazon are increasingly exposed to the outside world by choice or circumstance. The fallout of outside contact has rarely been anything less than catastrophic, resulting in untold extinction of hundreds of tribes over the centuries. For ones that survived the devastation of introduced disease and conquest, the process of acculturation transformed once proud cultures into fragmented remnants, their self-sufficiency and social cohesion stripped away, left to struggle in a new world marked by poverty and external dependence.

In the deepest recesses of the Amazon, remaining tribes struggle to retain their cultural identity and self-sufficiency in a profoundly-shifting world. Such is the case with the Matsés – or Jaguar People – that live along the Javari river and its tributaries in Peru and Brazil. A tribe of fierce warriors permanently contacted only in 1969, the Matsés are perhaps best-known for their facial tattoos, ceremonial practices, and use of toxins from giant tree frogs as a stimulant for hunting expeditions.

Alicia Fox photography Matsés Acaté Amazon

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