This land is known as the Changthang, a
high-altitude plateau stretching from northwestern Tibet into south-eastern Ladakh. The people of Changthang, known as Changpa or Drukpa, are
nomadic shepherds. They migrate along the established route year after year,
staying in the same encampments each time.
The Changpa live in tents made from yak wool and their lives are centred
around their livestock. They roam from one pastureland to another, trading
meat, wool and unprocessed cashmere.
The harsh, inhospitable and unforgiving terrain combined with the
negligible economic benefits of this lifestyle have made many of the Changpa
give up the traditional way of life. Their communities are becoming smaller
This may be the last generation of nomads.
Older members of the family milk the sheep every morning before the young men take them out to graze.
Each encampment comprises 20 to 40 families, and tents are arranged in clusters of four to five, with extended families setting up tents close to each other.
A woman weaves a blanket using sheep wool for the winter, as her child plays in the background.
As with most other parts of their lifestyle, the Changpa's attire is slowly taking on a few urban influences, as is seen in this man’s shirt.
In recent years it has become rare to see many children in Changpa encampments. They are usually sent off to a government-funded boarding school or to find work in a town.
Each Changpa family owns a flock of 100 to 300 sheep. In the middle of summer, lower pasturelands dry out and shepherds must lead their flock to higher ground in search of scrub vegetation.
Three generations of a Changpa family.
A mother washes her child in the freezing water of a glacial stream.
Tezing is the only one of his several male siblings to continue to live as a nomadic shepherd. His brothers have left to find odd jobs in towns and cities.
One of the elders of a small travelling Changpa clan.