About Mongolia
Mongolian Customs
Mongolian customs and traditions have grown as part of the development of central Asian nomadic civilization, passed down from generation to generation. They involve psychology, ethics, science, education, religion and family relationships. As in any other nation, Mongolian customs and traditions have their own specific distinguishing features.Mongolians have always considered childrearing and education to be the primary consideration. There is indeed a language association: the Mongolian word humuujil, meaning to educate, to bring up, is related to the words humuun, meaning human, and humuuniig hun bolgoh, meaning to make a man. Along with a healthy physical upbringing, much attention was traditionally paid to the intellectual and ethical development of a child, even before birth. It was strictly forbidden to frighten a pregnant woman, to make her unhappy or to make her do hard labour. It was also forbidden to pass a pregnant woman when walking, to swear in her presence, or even to speak in a loud voice. Such traditions came from the deep respect given to the unborn child, who might one day become an intellectual, a statesman, or just a faithful person to his family and community. The Mongol saying ‘Holiig ni doroond garyg ganzagand’ translates literally as ‘make the child’s legs reach the stirrups and hands reach the reins.’ This means that the child must grow physically able to help his parents and relatives. Children were told tales and legends, riddles and proverbs, and taught to respect parents, siblings, older people and strangers. Parents also carefully watched how the child learned and behaved, encouraging what they saw as good and condemning what they saw as bad. Children were taught to tend young animals, water horses, collect dried dung, and milk cows from a young age. For healthy growth, children were taught the dangers both of over-eating or being hungry, in addition to good manners. Particular attention was paid to toys and games to help intellectual growth, and Mongolians love to play simple games with children, such as guessing the number of shagai (lamb’s ankle bones) held in the fist; setting the alag melkhii (multicolored frog); anklebone shooting; and shagai shuurekh.
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Prehistory and antiquity
Traces of the early inhabitants Archaeological finds have confirmed that almost the entire territory of Mongolia was settled in prehistoric times. From the 1920s, archaeological excavations around Mongolia unearthed many interesting and important sites, a large number of them prehistoric. Of particular interest are settlements with graves and semi-subterranean dwellings near the town of Choibalsan, Dornod Aimag, the eastern province of Mongolia, and finds in the area around Bayanzag, Omnogobi Aimag, the southern province. These were discovered in the 1920s by the third Central Asiatic Expedition led by American Roy Chapman Andrews. Excavations of these settlements and graves showed that the bodies were interred in a seated position in narrow pits, with bone knives and pearl beads. Human traces from the middle and later Paleolithic periods have also been found in many regions of Mongolia, particularly in the Moiltyn valley, on the river Orkhon near Kharkhorin, the ancient capital, as well as in the valleys of the Selenge, Tuul and Kherlen rivers, deep in the Gobi and on the steppes of the Mongol Altai. A wonderful monument of primitive culture–cave paintings of Khoit Tsenkher, in Khovd Aimag, 1,200km west of Ulaanbaatar, bear witness to the high level of intellectual development of people in Mongolia of that period. A large number of bronze implements, decorations and household utensils found in these places are on display at the Natural History Museum, evidence that this country was a cradle of Asian civilization. About the same time that iron weapons began to appear, in the third century BC, inhabitants of Mongolia began to form tribal alliances and to threaten China. The archaeological evidence indicates that the area that is now Mongolia was populated as early as 500,000 years ago.
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