The members of the Buton Island tribe have what is known as Waardenburg syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects pigmentation and that can cause congenital hearing loss.
Korchnoi Pasaribu, a geologist from Jakarta, Indonesia, captured the sapphire gazes of several tribe members on camera on Sept. 17. His pictures created quite the internet buzz, going viral on Instagram and drawing attention to the unique and distinctive Buton tribe.
At 38 years old, Pasaribu has been documenting rural areas of Indonesia since September 2019—a hobby that is easy to maintain alongside his field work in geology.
“I actually work as a geologist, at nickel mining,” he told DailyMail. “Photography is my hobby.”
After documenting many tribes and cultural heritages throughout Indonesia, Pasaribu said he found the blue-eyed tribe strikingly unique and inspiring.
“Blue eyes are unique and beautiful and they are my inspiration,” he said. “Blue is the favorite eye color for me.”
Pasaribu’s Instagram followers seem persuaded by his work. His pictures have generated tens of thousands of likes and comments from admirers.
“Very exotic, very rare,” wrote one commenter. “Very beautiful.”
Others shared that the photo subjects looked like “models,” and that it was hard to believe they weren’t wearing contact lenses.
As unbelievable as it may be to some, the blue eye color is very real.
The rainforest-covered Buton Island is the 19th-largest island of Indonesia and home to the Buton people, which includes several smaller tribes.
Waardenburg syndrome affects some of these tribespeople, leaving them with an extremely rare combination of bright ocean-blue eyes and russet skin.
The syndrome, which affects an estimated 1 out of 42,000 people, can also cause bright-blue eyes, two different-colored eyes, and in some cases, lighter patches of hair or skin.
The result is a striking, beautiful contrast in color.
After documenting the beauty of the Buton tribe, Pasaribu continues to capture life throughout rural Indonesia. But the iconic photographs from his time on Buton Island have already made a memorable impression on the internet.
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