Standing next to a cliff with fresh ice melt trickling into a stream, weaving between hundreds of animal skulls and pelts; the smell of the rot is overwhelming. I carefully, and respectfully, walk away from the site while never turning my back upon the site of ancient rituals and magic. A small group of Tibetans greet me and there is a community of three or four families living in permanent, mud packed structures. I watch her laughing to herself as she marches along the perimeter of a mad packed wall. Walking towards the stupa, she slips her hand into my palm. Closing her tiny, weather worn fingers around my hand and we look at each other and smile with a child-like gaze. No one is leading nor lagging; traveling together in unison and harmony; souls complementing one another. The touch reminds me I’m human, with all my insecurities and fears; overwhelmed with the innocence, imagination, and purity of the child’s love. We play with the horses, laugh under the prayer flags while inspecting and investigating everything that sparks our curiosity. She falls over with giggles after watching my attempt to milk the goats, even after her excellent hands-on instructions. She is flying around all of us, feet barely ever touching the ground, buzzing with energy and joy. Her brightness and warmth glows as intense as the last, and single ray of sunshine.
"Just choose one, Moseman…both will you lead you somewhere". At a crossroads where I don’t have a legal permit to be, only 2 buses passing a day, 1 liter of water remaining, eating emergency food rations, and extended time at that altitude was causing horrendous physical effects, I was predicting my demise…you don’t have time to sit at a crossroads examining the paths to see which seems to show a history of more travel or kicking dirt around trying to forsee what will be at the end of each road. It’s not about the path we choose in life, it’s about making a choice and then cycling through with conviction, passion, dedication, free thought, and open heart. It’s not what route you choose that matters, it’s how you live through the journey that you felt was the "right"one at that moment. People say they are "lost", no, they aren’t…they have chosen not to choose…they haven’t yet begun their journey. How can you be lost in life when you aren’t even living? This ain’t the gospel…just the inner-ramblings of a long-distance-lunatic-cyclist on a saga with skies in the eyes and a fiery heart that rules my journey.
Hours spent sitting along the banks of Namucuo, the highest (alpine) lake on Earth, watching the current bring the most crystal clear water to my feet. Complete silence except for a single heartbeat, the pulsing of my own blood, and the water gently rolling and crashing to accompany the beat of my own rhythm. No one around for as far as eyes could see, small schools of fish in the water, massive coal black ravens along the bank tending to themselves, and insects skimming across the surface. The waters and skies merging into one along the horizon, no longer able to differentiate between earth and the heavens. We are one and at the mercy of it all.
Uyghur Mother and Daughter, Xinjiang 2012
After publishing a book of Tibet, I received countless requests for a collection of Uyghur photos.
After a year of returning from the region and trying to budget a return photo trip, I’v compiled 140 photographs in an eBook. If you’ve been following my feed and work for awhile, you know all profits I make go to continue these projects.
Again, thank all you, specifically the Uyghurs from all around the world that have helped, advised, and supported my endeavor and work.
The book is dedicated to all Uyghurs, specifically Eliyar and Akbar Tursun and their entire family.
Link to purchase the eBook: http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/468873-uyghur
A prostitute in Hebei province, China. Curious of the female foreign guest, which is probably the first to ever stay here, she spends time asking questions of simple curiosity.
Recently, China’s security ministry has ordered a crack down on prostitution throughout the mainland. Prostitution can be found from the biggest cities to some of the smallest towns and villages in the far western reaches of China. Officially, prostitution is illegal but up until last month, government officials usually turned their eyes from the matter.
There are seven tiers of prostitution. The first tier are “second wives” which is a very socially and culturally accepted form of “prostitution”. Then downwards from “packaged wife”, “three halls”, “doorbell girls”, “hairdressing salon sister”, “street girl”, to “down the work shack”. This woman would fit more into the “doorbell girl”, forth tier.
From personal experience, there are much less prostitutes in religious areas, such as Tibetans and Uyghurs, but you will find Han women on occasion in these regions.
A Uyghur father cracks open apricot shells for the interior seed in his traditional mud packed home in Kashgar. Apricots are one of the most common fruits you will find in Xinjiang and all along the ancient trade route through Central Asia, The Silk Road.
A father, and uncle, is always someone special in every young girl’s life. The 12 year old daughter snuggles into her father’s lap still wearing her pajamas from the previous evening while his niece wraps her arms tightly around his neck. No one wants to be left out of the love that’s shared within the household. It’s never an odd sight to see family members giving each other physical affection in Uyghur culture. Often you will spot fathers holding onto their young adult sons.
It’s morning inside a traditional Uyghur home near Korla, Xinjiang. After chai and breakfast the family generally sits around discussing life, family issues, and what things need to be taken care of during the day.
Girls will be girls, everywhere in the world.
Teen Uyghur girls take a break after an afternoon of chai and dancing. Songs ranged from American pop stars like Ke$ha to traditional Uyghur and some tunes from Central Asia.
Through thousands of miles of travel and the dozens and dozens of dance parties I’ve been involved in…I’m beginning to believe that dance could bring the entire world together in peace. The laughter and love that comes through dance overcomes culture, religion, and language.
Until the next dance party…rock on.
A Uyghur husband and wife work together, storing away the Fall’s harvest of fruit for the winter. The fruit, which is usually apples and pears, will be used by the family and given as gifts until the Spring.
It is quite common for Uyghur couples and families of Xinjiang to work together in the fields, with a high respect for the mother. Not only does the older women work in the fields but also will tend to the family matters late into the evening.
The countryside of Korla, Xinjiang October 2012
The sacrifice of a sheep for Eid al-Adha عيد الأضحى October 2012, Aksu Xinjiang
Feast of the Sacrifice is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honor the willingness of the prophet ʾIbrāhīm (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismā’īl (Ishmael) as an act of submission to God’s command and his son’s acceptance to being sacrificed, before God intervened to provide Abraham with a Lamb to sacrifice instead. In the lunar Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days. In the international Gregorian calendar, the dates vary from year to year, drifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.
Mother and son pick apples in the family’s orchard, September 2012
Early fall is fruit harvesting season in Xinjiang. Many families have their own orchards and fields that they grow a variety of fruit. The fruit is stored in a small building and eaten through out the fall and winter.
Fruit picking is much more difficult than you would imagine; as I dropped at least 1 in every 4 apples and pears I picked.
Life on the Tibetan Plateau (by Ellen Moseman)
Books available for purchase on the Etsy store:
- “Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.”— Robert Anthony
- “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as an escape.”
- “I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.”— Tracee Ellis Ross (via ...