Did you know that Genghis Khan and the Mongols were the dominant force that shaped Eurasia and consequently the modern world? Not for what they destroyed - though they wrought much destruction all over the continent - but for what they built.
They came close to uniting Eurasia into a world empire, and in so doing they spread throughout it technologies like paper, gunpowder, paper money, or the compass - and pants. They revolutionized warfare. More lastingly, in the words of Jack Weatherford in his book, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World: '...they also created the nucleus of a universal culture and world system. (...) With the emphasis on free commerce, open communication, shared knowledge, secular politics, religious coexistence, international law, and diplomatic immunity.
Now, a culture that once introduced the foundation of our current way of thinking and ruled much of the world, by a man that we can track to 5% of the global population, now in jeopardy of losing part if its ancient heritage and ancient cultural identity by the very ideological path they helped send the world down a thousand years ago...
Mongolia has always been known for its strong nomadic traditions, but life has recently become more urbanized for many citizens in this sparsely populated country. As generations come to maturity, capitalism has replaced communism, showing the younger generation that an education and an urban environment could mean, to what they perceive, as a means to a better life.
Almost 50% of the population now live in or near an urban center, while the other 50% live a semi-nomadic lifestyle in the countryside. Despite this change in lifestyle, the rich nomadic heritage remains strong for the time being, and traditional Mongol songs, dance, stories and clothing are still celebrated, especially during festivals and national holidays.
It is these festivals and national holidays that bring me to Mongolia year after year.
Since 2012 I have photographed both the Naadam Festival or the Golden Eagle Festival multiple times. I have now been to Mongolia six times with six more planned over the next year and a half.
In July of 2017 Jennifer King, Randy Wilson and I will be leading a photography workshop to Mongolia. This time to photograph the urban celebration and events of Naadam, and heading west to outer Mongolia to stay with a Kazakh Eagle Hunter family.
Naadam is a national festival celebrated every year from 11 to 13 July across Mongolia that focuses on three traditional games: horseracing, wrestling and archery.
The festival's local Mongolian name, "eriin gurvan naadam," is translated as the "three games of men." That is, archery, horse racing, and wrestling. Whereas horse racing and archery competitions have gradually incorporated women participants over the years, wrestling continues to be a highly male-dominated sport.
As a photographer, I always enjoy visiting Mongolia at this time. It is a cornucopia of possible images for any photographer. From action photography, to cultural photography, landscapes and intimate portraits, there is a photo opportunity around every corner.
If you want to travel to a unique land that many will only ever read about in magazines?
Do you like to capture people in traditional costumes, or visit working horse farms, maybe even photograph the 1000 year old tradition of eagle falconry on horseback that most people don't know even exists?
How about chronicling the ancient festival called Naadam through your camera?
If you said yes to any of these, this is a photography trip you should consider. As one person said on my last trip, “I didn’t know this was even on my bucket list, but now that I have been here, it’s just been checked off!”
See the details here http://www.kevinpepperphotography.com/2017-mongolia-workshop-with-randy-wilson