With Love from New York: Hunza Photographer Searches for Roots in the Pamirs

New-York based photographer Nazir Abbas feels himself at home every time he travels to Pamirs.

While in search of his roots, Nazir has found numerous friends, skyscraping mountains, honest hearts, and broad smiles in Tajikistan. His Instagram and Facebook pages are full of pictures he has taken of Tajiks. In a photo-blog, Nazir shares the reasons behind his special love for photography, indigenous people, and the region in general.


“I was born in the Hunza Valley, north Pakistan, and in 2009 moved to New York, where I graduated from Farmingdale State College with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication and Design. Photography was a major part of my studies: I started to dig into understanding how I can communicate through the lens when words fall short.

Navruz celebrations in New York
Navruz celebrations in New York
Persian Parade in New York
Persian Parade in New York
Persian Parade in New York
Silk Road Dance in Washington, DC

From a cultural and linguistic point of view, I consider myself Central Asian, so I was always curious to visit the Central Asian countries, especially Tajikistan. I have been to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. I like Tajikistan because people are very welcoming and friendly. I find peace and positive vibes in Tajikistan.

Wedding in Badakhshan, Tajikistan
Wedding in Badakhshan, Tajikistan
Badakhshan, Tajikistan
National library, Dushanbe
Monument of Ismail Somoni, Dushanbe
Wakhan girls, Tajikistan
Rushan, Tajikistan
Khorog, Tajikistan
Khorog, Tajikistan
Ishkashim, Tajikistan

I am interested in cultural photography that portrays native people in their traditional outfits. It was fun going around and photographing native people. I did not find many differences between the Pamir region of Tajikistan and the Hunza Valley—the nature, people, culture, and language are almost the same. Even the architecture is similar: in the Hunza Valley and the Pamirs, people build exactly the same type of houses.

Hunza Valley
Wakhan woman, Hunza Valley, Pakistan
Hunza Valley
Dushanbe
Khorog, Tajikistan
Pamiri house, Hunza Valley
Pamiri house, Badakhshan, Tajikistan
Pamiri hat, Hunza Valley

Other parts of Central Asia are pretty much the same. The most fascinating feature of this region is that all the towns and cities are kept very clean.

Uzbekistan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan

My album contains photographs from the Hunza Valley and the Pamirs, and my pick from the Hunza Valley would be the picture below. It was a great feeling going around the valley and seeing such happy faces.

I shot this photo in Wakhan, in the Pamir region of Tajikistan, and it is my favorite from the trip. Aside from the light, color, and visual aspects, this photograph depicts the real Wakhi Pamiri people and their life.

ZONG, WAKHAN, TJ | 13AUGUST2018This is my most favorite photograph from wakhan and I wish you all a very happy and blessed Eid al-Adha. <3#Tajikistan #Badakhshan #Pamir #xik #xikwor #Wakhi

Posted by Nazir Abbas on Tuesday, August 21, 2018

There is plenty to photograph in the region, from beautiful landscapes to people with colorful traditional outfits. So if you go to the region, enjoy every moment of your trip.”

Hunza

Hunza is a mountain valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Hunza is located in the extreme northern part of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan’s Vakhan corridor and the Xinjiang region of China. Hunza was an independent principality for more than 900 years, until the British gained control of it and the neighboring valley of Nagar between 1889 and 1892 through military conquest (the Great Game between Russia and England for control of the region took place here).

Three cups of tea, Hunza Valley
Hunza Valley
Hunza Valley
Hunza Valley
Hunza Valley
Hunza Valley
Famous apricots from Hunza Valley

Historically, there have been mass migrations and conflicts between tribes and ethnic groups. Today, the main groups are the Burishi (Hunza), Wakhan, and Shina. Most practice Ismaili Islam. There is a myth that the Hunza are extremely long-lived (there are reports than men have lived 110 years and women 122 years, though this is not the average).

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