Mongolian art and culture
MONGOLIA ARTS AND CULTURE
Historical essentials of Mongolian culture
The rock-painting monuments found on the territory of Mongolia and survived to
date from the early Iron Age bring us the message of our ancestors who lived 5
000-3 000 years ago. The monuments allows us to read the ancient history of
Mongolia. The capable depiction of horse-cart, ox-cart attracts the attention of
researchers even today. While the earliest rock-paintings depict wild beasts and
birds, with the passage of time the ability of depicting gets improved, the
paintings show people's life to a greater extent alongside with beasts. These
works illustrate hunting scenes, sowing of crops, domestication of animals,
ox-cart carriages, and even the intimate relations of men and women.
The most famous stone memorials found on the teritory of Mongolia belong to the
Turkic period. The valuable stone memorials of Toniyukuk, Bilge Khan and
Kultegin found in the Orkhon Valley hold the history of the ancestors of today's
70 million Turkish people. These three generals who were the latest leaders of
the powerful state in the Central Asia inscribed on the memorial how they had
made the great state. The scripts on the side of the memorial are in Runic
having a history of 1200 years. The stone memorials, still existing in the
Orkhon Valley and evidencing the great history, are registered by UNESCO as
Erdenezuu is a historical religious monument connected with the legendary
Kharkhorin city, the ancient capital of Mongolia that remained hidden to the
world for 500-600 years. The history of Mongolians has been always evidenced by
others' history. The Kharkhorin city has become known to the world due to the
history about Mongolians written by States that are isolated tens of thousand
kilometers away from each other. The Kharkhorin city of 30 thousand inhabitants
was invaded by 100 thousand soldiers of Ming dynasty, and burned down. Later,
the stone wall remains were transported, and the current Erdenezuu monastry was
build up. It is no exageration to say that for some time the monastry served not
only as the religious center; it also served as the political and economic
center of Mongolians.
Three Learned States
India, Tibet and Mongolia were named as learned in the Buddhist religion.
Wanchin-Erdene, Dalai Lama and Bogd Gegeen constitute the Buddhist religious
monarch system to discover and install each other. Mongolians played a key role
in systematizing the Buddhist religious principles and established a college
which promoted to the development of scientific branches in monasteries.
Einstein recognized the Buddhist philsophy to be the most systematic and
scientifc religion. Buddhism is the most peaceful, at the same time, it is the
most powerful religion.
Morin Khur, or horse-head fiddle is a Mongolian national musical instrument. Up
to 1990s the instrument was mainly used to perform national melodies which
imitate animals' and nature's appearance and behavior, especially the horse.
Nowadays, it is also used to perform world classical melodies. Many of the
Mongolian and foreign spectators are impressed and delighted about the
instrument's potential. Morin Khur which represents the greatest symbol of
national musical instruments was created by the nomadic Mongolians, and it is
registered into the world cultural heritage. A new player of Morin Khur, first
of all, learns to imitate the amble gait of a horse. This shows that the
horse-head fiddle is inseparable from the Mongolians and their horses. The horse
has been the pride of Mongolian cavalrymen, and the mainstay of their unity.
Long song is a unique traditional singing style known as Urtiin duu. Its miracle
is unrepeatable elsewhere. A herder taking herds to pasture sings a song which
involves extraordinarily complicated, drawn-out vocal sounds. It is evocative of
the boundless steppe. While the people from other countries live in relevancy of
each other, the Mongolians are comparatively independent people. This specific
of life is formed into majestic profound songs, demanding great skill and the
breathing abilities. Long songs are produced in the depth of people's real life,
that is why there is no author and composer. They represent one of the oldest
genres of Mongolian musical art, dating to the 13th century.
The Khuumii involves producing two simultaneous tones with the human voice. It
is a difficult skill requiring special ways of breathing. One tone comes out as
a whistle-like sound, the result of locked breath in the chest being forced out
through the throat in a specific way, while a lower tone sounds as a base. The
Khuumii is considered musical art -not exactly singing, but using one's throat
as an instrument. It doesn't occur in other national cultures.
Bielge, or dance of the body
Bielge is particular to the people of western Mongolia. The dancers make
practically no use of their feet. Instead, the dancers use only the upper part
of their bodies. There are more than ten types of Bielge distinguishable by the
movement of arms, especially shoulders, wrist and fingers. Mongolians perform
Bielge since childhood. In olden days the herding neighbors used to get together
in their ger to have a fun of dancing Bielge. This way the traditional manner of
performing Bielge has been handed down from generation to generation and reached
the present time in a somewhat modified form.
Epics and legends
This ancient genre, enriched by generations, combines poetry, songs, music and
the individuality of each performer. Singers may sing with or without a musical
instrument. These sung stories are told from memory and may have thousands of
quatrains. Such long stories are usually performed on a long winter night.
By combining stories, music and drama, herders organize a kind of home school.
The children, while playing various collective games with bone and wooden toys,
listen to the songs and learn about history, life and folklore. "Geser", "Jangar",
"Khan Kharakhui", and "Bum Erdene" are classic legend and story songs. Each is a
library of folk wisdom and national heritage.
Ger, the traditional dwelling
The Mongolian, Kyrgyz and Kazakh people live in ger what the West, following
Russians, call yurt. However, Kyrgyz and Kazakh people have given up the
portable home of nomads and already transferred to a sedentary way of life. Hut
was the first human dwelling 10 thousand years ago. Thereafter, a round form
dwelling ger, the portable home of nomads has been created. Its dismantling
takes only half an hour, erection takes about an hour. The "khana" (wooden wall
shell) is erected and the "uni" (rafters) are set and only then is the covering
felt laid. The girth-ropes express future, present and past times, and the three
generations. The valuable objects and religious altars are kept in "hoimor"
opposite the door. Male belongings, including saddle and bridle as well as Morin
Huur (horse-head fiddle) are kept in the western section, as it is occupied by
men. Women occupy the eastern section, where they keep kitchen utensils in a
rack. Ger looks like the terrestrial globe. Due to its round-form, it does not
store bad energy in its corners. People who live in ger easily get asleep. And
spending a night in ger quickly removes one's agitation and anger.
The main garment is the deel, a long, one-piece gown made from wool or silk.
Most Mongolians have several different deels, appropriate for different seasons,
as well as a more decorative deel for special occasions. Winter deels are often
lined with sheep skin. The deel has a high collar, is often brightly colored, is
worn with a multipurpose sash, and is worn by men and women year-round. Ethnic
groups are differentiated by the color, decoration, and shape of their deel. The
khantaaz is a shorter traditional jacket, often made of silk, which is also
buttoned to the side, and usually worn over the deel. With regards to hats, the
fur-trimmed hats, mostly made of sable, are popular. The gutul is a high boot
made from thick leather and sometimes decorated ornately. They are easy to put
on - both the left and right boot is the same shape. There exist many
explanations for the curled, upturned toe.
The Naadam Festival, or Three Manly Games is the traditional nomadic culture,
having a history of almost 2000 years since the Hunnu period. Naadam designed to
test men's strength in the early years has become a national show Naadam
nowadays. The focal point of the National Festival remains wrestling, archery
The main food of Mongolians is meat and dairy products. There is no other nation
used to make so many various kinds of products out of milk and consume to such
an extent like Mongolians. Later, Tibetians learned from Mongolians how to make
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