Mongolia is a fantastic place to experience real adventure, a never ending wild plain from the Gobi Desert to the green steppe of Dornod. During my trip to Mongolia, I had the luck to experience the legendary Mongolian hospitality as I stayed for a few weeks with nomad herders, experiencing their way of life. It was an absolutely intense experience due to the extreme wildness of the landscape. Together with my hosts, I had the opportunity to take care of the animals, ride horses, preparing traditional food, drinking tons of milk tea and vodka! Even if we couldn’t speak each other as we didn’t know each others languages, we managed to establish strong relationships.
Mongolia is a tough place for tough people but Mongolian herders are very big-hearted. With these pictures, I have tried to capture the beautiful huge spaces of the Central Gobi and of the Eastern Steppe of Dornod together with the proud attitude of Mongolian people.
Editor’s Note – Anil Cherukupalli
Matteo Allegro’s photo essay is a paean to the life of the Mongolian nomads and the amazing landscape they inhabit. Vast and flat grasslands that stretch to the horizon framed by an intense blue sky. This is a landscape where scale is difficult to judge and the nomads and their small settlements are often lost in the vastness of the frame. But Matteo’s photos manage to highlight the nomads and their lifestyle in interesting ways. Helped by some beautiful light, these portraits and landscapes reveal the love the nomads share for the land they live on and the animals, mainly horses, they co-exist with.
On the surface, it seems like an idyllic existence. Who wouldn’t want to live on a beautiful farm that is as vast as the sky? But the photos might just be deceptive and not reveal the daily struggle these Mongolians would be going through to ensure that they survive in such a landscape where food is perhaps not abundant and the comforts of civilization are few and far between. But what the photos do reveal is the pride the nomads have in their horses. From little kids to old men, all are proud of their steeds and seem to ride them like kings. The steppes that launched the world conquering horse armies of the great Khan might be quiet today but in these photos there is a hint of that former greatness, the easy gallop, the confident pose and the unbroken connection between man and beast. These are a people whose ancestors conquered half the known world at one point but are now leading the gentle life of a nomad. As such, these photos are perfect portraits of their quiet but dignified present day lifestyle.