Mongolian Art And Culture
CULTURE OF MONGOLIA
Deeply rooted in the natural environment, Mongolian culture has been molded under their harshest of climates; the identity of these ancient tribal peoples has survived for hundreds of years within traditional nomadic practices. During the greatest period of expansion at the time of powerful Mongol Empire, the mobility of the equestrian culture of the Mongols brought them into contact with other cultures and allowed them to absorb many different ideas and influences. However, the Mongols did not bring home many comfort from the civilized countries they conquered as they weren’t particularly interested in doing so.
Dispute the economical difficulties of the present and the purges and revolutions in the past, Mongolian believe that their cultural heritage is something to be cherished and kept alive. The isolation of Mongolia during the 20th century is now over, and Mongolian arts, sciences and religion are free to bloom as an exotic combination of an ancient culture in a modern world, without being influenced and restricted by the former Soviet regime.
Language & Script
When the Mongol empire collapsed, the majority of Mongols returned to their beloved uplands. They settled back to their usual herding occupations and fought among themselves-forgetting about military congests. Despite such isolation the Mongol language was greatly enriched by its international past.
Mongolian (Mongol) is an Altaic language, related to the Turkish spoken in modern Turkey and another Turkic languages of Central Asia like Kazakh and Tuvan. It is the language of the majority Khalkha Mongols. Together with its various dialect, it is spoken by some six million people in Mongolia, Russia and China.There are four main dialects:
• Oirat Spoken in the western regions
• Buryat Spoken on the northern borders near Lake Baikal
• Khalkha The main dialect of Mongolia
• Inner Mongolian dialects found among people living near Mongolia`s southern borders; corresponding to the dialects of similar adjacent tribes in Inner Mongolia
The Mongol-Turkic vocabulary of the ancient nomads has expanded over the centuries to embrace Tibetan and Sanskrit expressions from Buddhism, Chinese and Manchu words introduced during the rule of the Qing dynasty, rule of Russian technical and political terms from the period of Soviet influence, and, during the 1990s, English words that are part of the international language of commerce, science and computers.
Mongol was put into writing 800 years ago on Chinggis Khaan`s orders, according to The Secret History of the Mongols.Mongolia has used a number of scripts throughout its history but the most used has been the Uighur Mongolian script.The Mongol scripts based on the 14-letter Uighur alphabet, derived in turn from Sogdian. Uighur and Sogdian were both written horizontally and vertically, but Mongolian script is written in vertical columns from left to right. Its letters vary slightly in shape depending on whether they are at the beginning, the middle or the end of a word, as in Arabic. Over the centuries some new letters were introduced into the Mongol script, initially to reduce ambiguity, and later in order to incorporate certain Tibetan and Russian Cyrillic-children were not taught to the 20th century only grandfathers and grandmothers kept it alive. Schools and other institutions though it would prove too disruptive to introduce, and there was also a shortage of suitable typesetting equipment. Most people tended to prefer a modified Cyrillic for everyday use. Khalkha Mongolian is written in the Russian Cyrillic alphabet with two extra letters. Following a political decision in the 1940s to abandon the experimental romanisation of Mongol and minority languages in the USSR, this modified Cyrillic alphabet was brought into general use in Mongolian in 1946. It is much closer to modern spoken Mongolian than the classical language of the Mongol script, whose use was discouraged.
Buddhism in Mongolia
Mongolia used to be the second stronghold of Buddhist religion after Tibet. The Mongols came into contact with Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity and Islam. Mongolia was converted to Tibetian Buddhism twice, first by the example of Khubilai Khan, grandson of Chingis Khaan, who adopted it as the state religion in 13th century, and again in 16th century, when Altan Khaan took buddhist vows.
In the turn of 20th century each and every family was obliged to send one of their children to a monastery to become monk. In seven decades of Communism Buddhism was almost eradicated as more than 30,000 monks and priests were executed and another 70,000 exiled or imprisoned. But the liberalization of 1990 allowed its peaceful revival. Now more than 140 Buddhist monasteries have been set up as a new.
Under this newly found freedom of belief, other religions flocked in, including more than 30, mostly Christian, churches and cults.
Another popular religion is Islam practiced by a 60,000 strong Kazakh minority in Bayan-Ulgii province.
Traditional Mongol painting
The country’s most striking art form is the unique traditional Mongol zurag painting, a type of story-telling art without words that may be described as a developed form of nave painting. Mongol zurag portrays everyday country life with images of people, horses and gers, combined with folk motifs and legends. Fine line drawings were colored with natural mineral pigments, such as red ochre and charcoal, until lacquer paints became available in Mongolia. The best known master of Mongol, zurag Marzan (Joker) Sharav , painted in the early 20s century. His ethnographic works on monumental backgrounds gave an insight into Mongolian nomadic culture. Sharav’s “Day in the life of Mongolia ” or “One day of Mongolia” depicts dozens of small scenes with men herding livestock, hunting, making felt, putting up a ger and slaughtering animals, while women and girls milk animals and prepare food. In the different scenes, people are living and dying, engaged in archery and wrestling, attending ceremonies, fighting and making love.
Traditional costume – Deel
The deel, the colourful dress is worn by men and women. It is an elegant three-quarter-length gown that buttons at the right shoulder to a high round-necked collar. Winter deel is made of cotton and lined with sheepskins, whilst summer deel is made of silk with traditional patterns and designs, in shining bright colors. The sleeves are long that they cover the hands. Although usual coat of European style is common, every mongolian has a best deel for special occasion such as Naadam and Tsagaan sar (Lunar new year).
A deel has multipurpose uses, acting as a warm blanket at night , as a mini tent when getting dressed or undressed, and a private canopy when there is no cover.