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Winter In Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains

The Murghab district of Tajikistan sits high in the Pamir Mountains, a range sometimes referred to as the Roof of the World. Tourists often visit in summer to see the pristine landscapes and wildlife like the Marco Polo sheep, but few outsiders venture here during the harsh winter. But Ubaidylda Shaimov, who was born here and now lives in Kyrgyzstan, was undeterred by the cold weather when he went to visit the remote village of Bash-Gumboz, near the Afghan border. Shaimov filed these photographs of his former home high in the mountains.

The village of Bash-Gumboz. The round structure was built by the Soviet Air Defense Forces and is now used as a sports facility for the local school.
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The village of Bash-Gumboz. The round structure was built by the Soviet Air Defense Forces and is now used as a sports facility for the local school.

Students of a local boarding school, where the photographer taught for eight years
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Students of a local boarding school, where the photographer taught for eight years

Palmira, a language teacher, looks out of a window before her wedding.
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Palmira, a language teacher, looks out of a window before her wedding.

A collection of sheep ankle bones, which are rolled like dice in a traditional nomadic game. During the long winter, men in the Murghab district spend many hours playing ankle bones. The game is also played during weddings and other celebrations.
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A collection of sheep ankle bones, which are rolled like dice in a traditional nomadic game. During the long winter, men in the Murghab district spend many hours playing ankle bones. The game is also played during weddings and other celebrations.

Abdilaat Ibraev is a teacher and well-known player of ankle bones.
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Abdilaat Ibraev is a teacher and well-known player of ankle bones.

Abdilaat Ibraev and friends shoot ankle bones.
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Abdilaat Ibraev and friends shoot ankle bones.

Children in Bash-Gumboz. Ubaidylda Shaimov and his wife have helped to raise Talant, the boy on the right, while his mother dealt with serious health problems. The Murghab region suffers from high infant and mother mortality rates.
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Children in Bash-Gumboz. Ubaidylda Shaimov and his wife have helped to raise Talant, the boy on the right, while his mother dealt with serious health problems. The Murghab region suffers from high infant and mother mortality rates.

The photographer's young niece and nephew. Their father, Shaimov's brother, is a road repair worker along the Pamir Tract which connects Osh, Kyrgyzstan, with Khorog in Tajikstan.
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The photographer's young niece and nephew. Their father, Shaimov's brother, is a road repair worker along the Pamir Tract which connects Osh, Kyrgyzstan, with Khorog in Tajikstan.

This bear cub, called Misha, was found after its mother was killed by hunters. A local shepherd has been taking care of the cub.
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This bear cub, called Misha, was found after its mother was killed by hunters. A local shepherd has been taking care of the cub.

Misha the bear cub with two men from the village
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Misha the bear cub with two men from the village

Ubaidylda Shaymov stands near the grave of a villager named Zardaly, who was killed during Stalin's repressions of the 1930s.
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Ubaidylda Shaymov stands near the grave of a villager named Zardaly, who was killed during Stalin's repressions of the 1930s.

A rocky outcropping where hunters often go in search of wild Marco Polo sheep
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A rocky outcropping where hunters often go in search of wild Marco Polo sheep

The winner of a game of ankle bones carries his prizes: a small carpet and a Kyrgyz felt hat. At larger tournaments, the prize can be a sheep or a young yak.
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The winner of a game of ankle bones carries his prizes: a small carpet and a Kyrgyz felt hat. At larger tournaments, the prize can be a sheep or a young yak.

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