Before They Pass Away

In his landmark project Before They Pass Away, Jimmy Nelson captured the lives, customs, and spectacular dress of the world’s last surviving tribes. And he did so in their native lands, from the icy wilds of the Canadian north to the desert plains of Africa to the lush jungles of New Guinea.

Spending two weeks with 30 indigenous tribes, the British photographer immersed himself in their traditions and rituals in order to faithfully immortalize the unique jewelry, hairstyles, clothing, and artifacts that existed before colonization and globalization.

Nelson’s portraits present these inheritors of noble cultures in all their dignified pageantry — an exquisite showcase of human experience and a historical ethnographic record.

Maasai man, Tanzania

Maasai men, Tanzania

Nyerere, Loingu, and Lewangum, Kenya

Maori man, Taupo village, New Zealand

Maori woman, Taupo village, New Zealand

Maori tribe, New Zealand

Maori women, New Zealand

Pema Tenjing, Lo Mangthang village, Upper Mustang, Nepal

Upper Mustang, Nepal

Rock of Rah, Rah lava Island, Vanuatu Islands

Mr. Sea, Hilao Moyizo village, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Bori village, Southern Omo, Ethiopia

Lekir monastery, Ladakh, India

Perak Lady, Lamayuru monastery, Lamayaru village, Ladakh, India

Rabari man, Rajasthan, India

Huli tribe, Papua New Guinea

Menaja Koke, Ponowi village, Jalibu Mountains, Papua New Guinea

Samburu women, Kenya

Samburu tribe, Kenya

Bakbergen, Samil & Kamilla Altantsogts, Bayan Olgii, Mongolia

Altantsogts Bayan, Olgii, Mongolia

Tsaatan tribe, Mongolia

Kalam man, Papua New Guinea

Kalam tribe, Papua New Guinea

Matutjavi Tjavara, Epupa Falls, Namibia

Hartmann Valley, Cafema, Namibia

Yakim, Yamal Peninsula, Ural Mountains

Korcho village, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Cormorant fishermen of Yangshuo County, China

Karo tribe, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Goroka tribe, Papua New Guinea

Goroka, Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea


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Goroka, Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea


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