Paired Photos that Speak Far More Than 2000 Words

If you ever wanted to see what sudden cultural change looks like up close and personal– in high resolution and in the world we all live in– you must look at this piece from the New York Times Lens Section…

Ayonga in February 2008 and July 2010. Photo: A Yin

December 20, 2010

Mongolian Diptychs Tell of Profound Change


A Yin is documenting his home province of Inner Mongolia. He is a self-taught anthropologist-photographer who has made it his mission to record the last of the nomads there. The phenomenal changes he captures tell the broader story of China’s transformation. A Yin was cited by the National Geographic All Roads Film Project in 2007. Sim Chi Yin, a photographer and writer based in Beijing, interviewed A Yin for Lens. Their conversation has been translated from Mandarin.

Q.  Why have you persisted in shooting Inner Mongolia’s nomads?
A.  Because their way of life is disappearing. Chinese society is developing very quickly and traditions are changing, diminishing, disappearing. I just want to document, help preserve and propagate the great traditions of my ancestors. I feel a pain in my heart as I see it all change. These traditions belong to an old world. I am documenting the way of life of the descendants of Genghis Khan.

I come from a family of farmers. We are Mongolian but have became very Han Chinese over time and through interaction with them. My own family had given up on the nomadic life for over 200 years now. We had lost our traditions.

For full interview and slideshow, click here.