Photographer's Note

I took this portrait while visiting a Kuchi family in their tent in northern Afghanistan. The Kuchi (which means "those who move" in Persian), are a fascinating people group. They are predominantly nomadic Pashtuns, usually sheep or goat herders, who travel seasonally in large caravans that often include vast numbers of pack animals (such as camels, horses, and donkeys). They carry their lives and belongings on these animals, and can most often be seen on age-old migration routes, which move from highland pastures in the warm summer months to lowland grazing areas in the winter. Most speak a various dialect of Pashtun, and can be easily identified from afar by their large black goat-haired tents*, spread throughout the countryside (there are several types of nomadic groups in Afghanistan, many which can be identified by the certain type of tent they utilize). Kuchis in the eastern part of the country are often mistakenly referred to as Kandahari.

In this photo, we were sitting in the man's tent along with his father and two sons, while the women of the family worked nearby. It is quite interesting that we were able to see the women's faces, they seemed to be allotted much more outward freedom than most women in Afghanistan, and weren't made to wear a burqa or scarf to hide themselves. The family was resting that day because they had a long journey ahead, and their animals were scattered around nearby hillsides looking for something to eat. The plan was to leave at 2 in the morning. He said they often travel at such hours not only to avoid the heat and dust, but more importantly, to avoid the crowds (especially when passing through a town or city). He told me that he and his family have been traveling this route, northern Badakhshan to the western Konduz, his entire life. As we said goodbye, I gotta be honest, there was a part of me that wished I was going with them.

*I posted a photo of their tent in workshop.

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Additional Photos by James McDowell (JMcDowell) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 17 W: 1 N: 81] (655)
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