Afghan tribe in remote villages

Afghanistan From the Web

Stunning images by Eric Lafforgue of the Wakhi people who live between Tajikistan and Pakistan. Rebecca Taylor writes on MailOnline, published October 9, 2016.


In a thin strip, wedged between Tajikistan and Pakistan, there is a village where the Taliban has struggled to impose their rule.

Known as the Wakhan Corridor, approximately 12,000 villagers live at an altitude of 4,500 metres, in the harsh, desolate terrain. It is home to about 12,000 people, who live a simple, relaxed life, with their livestock and few luxuries. A few families are unaware that the Taliban was ever in power, or that the US army invaded.

This area has recently been encouraged by the Afghan government to attract tourists from the Western world looking for an adventure.

To visit these villages one must travel through the tense Afghanistan atmosphere, pass border control, and drive up a primitive road built over half a century ago.

Wakhi nomad girl stands on a rock as she overlooks the harsh, desolate terrain between Tajikstan and Pakistan
Wakhi nomad women milking yaks. The 12,000 Wakhi people live a simple, relaxed life with their livestock in Afghanistan
Afghan woman in vibrant blue and green, inside her traditional Pamiri house, which is simply put together without luxuries
Afghan family inside their traditional Pamiri house
Portrait of an Afghan girl wrapped in a red headscarf
Portrait of a Wakhi nomad woman, dressed in a bright headscarf with yellow and blue beads around her neck
Nomad woman with her daughter, dressed in layers with boots to cope with the terrain
Wakhi nomad family inside a yurt, where they prepare food and hot drinks on an open flame with a pit for fuel and ashes
Afghan family in front of a stove in Wakhan
Father and daughter in their traditional home
Afghan boy with one shoe on stands below ibex horns used during Ramadan and Nowruz celebrations
Wakhi nomad woman in a pink headscarf

French photographer Eric Lafforgue visited these little-known lands in August 2016 to understand their movements in tourism and meet the Afghans that time forgot.
He said: “First I travelled to Khandud, which is famous for the colourful outfits of its women. With the help of the Aga Khan Foundation, the women have even opened a shop to sell souvenirs for tourists. Socks, vests and embroideries.”

The main tourist attraction is the Pamiri houses, known as ‘Chid’. They are built out of stone and plaster, and each retains particular features symbolising spiritual and traditional aspects.

Mr Lafforgue said: “At first they appear basic but they reveal symbols and beliefs when you ask the owners. In each room, five wooden pillars – symbolising the five pillars of Islam – support a beam skylight called Chorkhona.”

Wakhi nomad woman milks a yak
Afghan girl inside a traditional Pamiri house decorated for Nowruz
A Wakhi nomad woman with her yak in Afghanistan
Two Afghan men sip soup from a bowl
Wakhi nomad man with his gun inside his yurt. The five pillars used in the homes are reflective of the five pillars of Islam
Portrait of an Afghan mother with her son
Trek trail in the Pamir mountains. The terrain is stark and desolate, but that has not prevented thousands of Wahki people making lives for themselves
Afghan man with his old mother and his daughter in a Pamiri house
Wakhi nomad girl
Young Wakhi nomad boy. There is little to distract these children and tourists provide some entertainment
A man and woman take to the trek trail in the Pamir mountains with yaks
A father looks in as his baby sleeps in a cradle
Portrait of an Afghan girl with kohled eyes, wearing a vibrant blue scarf, traditional of the brightly coloured clothing
Young boy with a shaved head grins eagerly for photographer Eric Lafforgue, the first tourist of the year

The photographer continued to travel deeper into the Wakhan Corridor, to finally meet the Wahki nomads in the mountains of Grand Pamir.

He said: “A friendly Pamiri is responsible for the organisation, he owns a small travel agency in Ishkashim and has high hopes for the future. He must make do with the limited resources, the Internet is non-existent in the region.

“Local guides will take turns from village to village to share equitably the revenues generated by tourists.”

The Wakhi villages are completely isolated from the outside world, and have allegedly lived in the mountains for 2,000 years.

Mr Lafforgue said: “Distractions are rare for children. Nobody knows Messi or Ronaldo. Tourists are eagerly awaited as they provide some excitement in this harsh and monotonous existence.”

Despite the encouragement of visitors to the area, Mr Lafforgue was the first tourist of this year, with the season ending shortly after due to snow covering the mountains for six months.

He said: “The Wakhi chief’s wife said to me: ‘They say that in the plain, peace has returned and tourists are back in Afghanistan. I hope that many of them will come and visit us to discover our culture.'”

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