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Land and lives, interwoven

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Shot high on the Tibetan plateau, also known as the ‘roof of the world’, Kin Coedel’s photo series paints an intimate portrait of nomadic communities where a respect for their surroundings is woven into the fabric of their ancient traditions.

On the Tibetan plateau, 3,200 metres above sea level, nomadic communities have lived with and off the land for centuries. At the heart of this traditional existence is the yak, a native species of cattle that provides food, clothing and shelter. Farmers tend their animals through the seasons, moving with them as they migrate to and from grazing sites. Every part of the yak is valued and used, from the milk to the wool.

Chinese photographer Kin Coedel first encountered these communities in 2021, when he went to document the production of yak wool for a client in Shanghai. Enchanted by the people and place, he returned to Tibet five times, forming a close bond with his subjects before shooting the photos that would eventually become Dyal Thak

Although Coedel travelled to several areas, most of the photos in the series were taken in the village of Ritoma, a women-led community of weavers, spinners and wool felters. Even as shifting weather patterns are disrupting farmers’ migration schedule, growing demand for yak wool from the international textile industry is opening new economic opportunities for the craftspeople. 

In this changing context, Dyal Thak, which means ‘mutual ties’ or ‘a common thread’ in Tibetan, paints an intimate portrait of a community trying to preserve its cultural heritage and respectful way of living with nature while navigating a more globalised future.

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