Felt, Yaks, and a Tricycle

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Early morning in a herders’ camp on the pastures near Zurkul in the Eastern Pamirs, Tajikistan. The day begins with milking yaks. The children are slowly getting up – reluctant, still, to face the brisk cold of this summer morning.

While the light is changing by the minute, I note the things and tools spread out in the camp: a blue bucket to collect the milk; two pairs of Chinese army shoes neatly placed at some distance to the yurts; a boy’s tricycle that bears the marks of long-term use on the rock-strewn grasslands, its fork professionally welded for the years to come. And the ageing felt of the yurt itself, elaborately adorned; the ribbons and ropes that keep it stable during storms and provide space to keep small things like mobile phones, flashlights, and combs. A gathering of things used to make this this place a temporary home for the short Pamirian summer.

This assemblage of highland flotsam reminds me of similar material sediments in Walung, the pastures of Limi, or the things that last in the courtyard of a Kyrgyz house.


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