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In Pictures: The last Aryans
Brogpas living in remote Himalayas claim to be last of the Aryans, luring tourists and researchers.
Last updated: 14 Jul 2014 10:56
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Dhahanu, Ladakh - The Brogpas (or Drogpas) living in Ladakh, India-administered Kashmir, claim to be the last of the Aryans. Tourists - domestic and foreign - researchers and visitors are lured by the "last Aryan village" located in the remote Himalayas.

Are they indeed the last of what Nazi-era racial theorists thought of as a purebred "master race"? Or an exotic identity has been promoted to bolster racial tourism?

They live in the villages of Dha and Hanu (commonly called as Dhahanu), Darchik, and Gahanu - situated 163km southwest of Leh, the administrative capital of Ladakh. The 5,000 or so members of its community follows Tibetan Buddhism.

One theory says they arrived from Gilgit, Pakistan in the seventh century; a popular story is that they are descendants of Alexander's army, while many argue that the Aryans are the indigenous inhabitants of India.

Unlike the majority of the Ladakhis with Tibeto-Mongol looks, the Brogpas have Indo-Aryan features.

Sanjeev Sivan's 30-minute documentary "The Achtung Baby - In Search of Purity" explores the lore of pregnancy tourism: German women traveling to Dhahanu, in search of men with blue eyes, high cheekbones, long noses and superior intelligence - in the hopes of being impregnated with the last of the pure Aryan sperms.

According to Mona Bhan, associate professor of anthropology at DePauw University, Indiana, the theory of Aryan identity can be traced to "the British who were obsessed with racial categorisation and conflated language with race". She has been documenting the community for more than a decade.

For the community, tourism is an exciting proposition. "Brogpas do not associate their Aryanism with its 'dirty and cruel' history in Germany and elsewhere, though the two cannot be disassociated," Bhan told Al Jazeera. "There is also an underlying current here to reclaim a particular kind of nationalist pride and masculinity that relies on Brogpa bodies to bolster the superiority of Indian genes."

Stories such as pregnancy tourism are manufactured by outsiders "to fuel their continued obsession with race and exoticism".

For many locals, sustained curiosity brings additional income during the summer tourist season. "Now we charge $5 from tourists to pose for photos and more to wear traditional clothes and a lot more if you want to shoot videos," said Thinley Aryan, who boasts of changing his last name to Aryan to impress foreigners.

When asked if he has received proposals for fathering children by German women - "We all have stories," he said with a smile.


/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

A family in Dhahanu, famously called as 'last Aryan village' wear traditional dresses made of sheep's wool.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

The villagers in the rugged mountains of southern Ladakh claim to have maintained their racial purity by barring inter-caste marriages.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

A man prepares to take his donkeys to the nearby military base where they work as porters.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

There are many theories about their origins. One says they are descendants of the Dards of the Indo-Aryan stock who came down the Indus several centuries ago.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

A village elder says hordes of tourists, scholars and journalists come to their villages in search of the master race.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

A young woman wears the elaborate floral head-dress that they wear even while working in the fields. 



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

Researchers camp here to study their unique culture, music, language, their derision for cows and taboo, and so often their DNA to find racial purity.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

There are rumors of German women traveling to get pregnant by Brogpa men. Many documentaries have explored the theory of pregnancy tourism.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

Locals enjoy the attention and the money that racial tourism brings, they charge for being photographed by tourists.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

The residents of the four villages look different than majority of the Ladakhis with Tibeto-Mongol feature, and this difference has been promoted to bolster the race-and-heritage tourism.



/Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera

Nobody knows their origins or if their claims are true, but the fascination abounds.




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images:
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captions:

A family in Dhahanu, famously called as (***)last Aryan village(***) wear traditional dresses made of sheep(***)s wool.

;*;

The villagers in the rugged mountains of southern Ladakh claim to have maintained their racial purity by barring inter-caste marriages.

;*;

A man prepares to take his donkeys to the nearby military base where they work as porters.

;*;

There are many theories about their origins. One says they are descendants of the Dards of the Indo-Aryan stock who came down the Indus several centuries ago.

;*;

A village elder says hordes of tourists, scholars and journalists come to their villages in search of the master race.

;*;

A young woman wears the elaborate floral head-dress that they wear even while working in the fields. 

;*;

Researchers camp here to study their unique culture, music, language, their derision for cows and taboo, and so often their DNA to find racial purity.

;*;

There are rumors of German women traveling to get pregnant by Brogpa men. Many documentaries have explored the theory of pregnancy tourism.

;*;

Locals enjoy the attention and the money that racial tourism brings, they charge for being photographed by tourists.

;*;

The residents of the four villages look different than majority of the Ladakhis with Tibeto-Mongol feature, and this difference has been promoted to bolster the race-and-heritage tourism.

;*;

Nobody knows their origins or if their claims are true, but the fascination abounds.

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Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera;*;Bijoyeta Das/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
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