Tibet’s nomadic mountain people known as Ndrogba or Drokpa occupy the higher reaches of the pleateau, living at heights beyond 14,000 feet. They are found in all three traditional regions of Tibet: Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang. They have an estimated population of 2 million and live in tents made of yak wool and move two to three times a year, following the seasons. Most are now only semi-nomadic. Their centuries-old way of life is under threat from China’s “resettlement” policy under which many families have been relocated to permanent colonies at the edge of cities.  These nomads live on the very edge of ecosystems and their every movement is dictated by the needs of their herds. Their lifestyles are delicately balanced on the changing seasons. Their world is a prime example of sustainable pastoralism. At this point they are vulnerable to socio-politico-economic pressures as well as changing climate patterns. 


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A groom raises a toast with guests at a Tibetan wedding.
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A Drokpa offers prayers to the mountain god at a high pass in Sichuan province. Dropka are ardent followers of Tibetan Buddhism.
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During the summer migration, a Drokpa family lost three of their yaks at a river crossing. A family member carries back the carcass of the yak they recovered downstream.
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Drokpa use a portable back strap loom for weaving. Each family has a loom that can be set up and used at any location. All weaving including saddle bags, backpacks, panels for ‘tranak’, rugs, carpets and wide woollen panels used for clothing is done with this loom. Though Drokpa women weave round the year, most of it happens in the summer months.
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Women creating tattoos of relgious symbols from clay.
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A Drokpa trying to control a yak for vaccination.
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Drokpa live in black tents known as ‘tranak‘. Strands of yak wool are stitched together to form all-weather tents, from extreme cold and icy winds in winter to rain.
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Drokpa women are excellent herders and often manage the yaks.
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Dawn at the Zoige grassland in Sichuan province.
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Yaks crossing through Dzigey Grassland during the summer migration.
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Horses are an integral part of nomadic life in the Tibetan grasslands. In summer horse racing is a common sport.