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

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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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