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the Kyrgyz Shepherd

It is still dark outside while Rayim-Bek gets up to tend to the animals: sheep, goats, a handful of cows, two donkeys, a few scattered chickens. And of course the horses. He loves his horse more than anything. Like every Kyrgyz. 

Irys first clears away our camp for the night and then prepares breakfast. The brick room measures three by five metres: a stove with a kitchenette, a table, a lamp, a window, next to it the door. 

Behind the wall is a small stable for the goats. Outside, two dogs guard the sheep’s fenced-in area with rusty wire. The wolves have become a plague. 

Life is extremely meagre. No running water, no electricity. Telephone calls are only possible from the top of the ridge. The weather changes between snowstorm, rain and sun.

I am a guest for five days and accompany the shepherd at his work – up here in the Central Asian high mountains of the Tianshan, in the south of Kyrgyzstan. 

The year is 2022 and spring came much too early this year.


April, 2022


Naryn Province, Kyrgyzstan