Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mongolia Brief July 9, 2014 Part IV

‘Tuvurguun’ art exhibition: Hear the horses galloping
July 9 (UB Post) The horse is one of the main themes of Naadam celebrations.
Accordingly, Ch.Dorjderem and S.Bazarvaani released a joint art exhibition at Blue Moon Art Gallery called “Tuvurguun” (Sounds of Horse Hooves), showing horses in surreal and realistic settings. The surreal scenes of horses galloping towards the sun were illustrated by Bazarvaani, and realistic portraits of horses relaxing during the first snow were illustrated by Dorjderem.
S.Bazarvaani is a young artist who has released numerous solo and joint exhibitions. His most notable works in this exhibition are “Narni Zug” (Towards the Sun), “Tengeriin Duun” (Sound of the Sky) and “Tuvurguun 2” (Sounds of Horse Hooves 2). They stood out for their monochromatic hues – pink, purple and white. These colors are soft, feminine colors, most often used to illustrate grace, not horses galloping and pounding across a field. Surprisingly, these contrasting aspects were intertwined skillfully by Bazarvaani. He used a more reddish hue for his painting “Tuvurguun 2” and used a drip painting technique which made the horses look like sculptures in motion. “Tengeriin Duun” and “Narnii zug” were painted with a splash technique. All the horses in the three paintings look like magical flying horses amidst the clouds.
Ch.Dorjderem is a young artist who has shown his work in Mongolia and also participated in three art festivals in Korea and China. Viewing Ch.Dorjderem’s fine and skillful brushwork, one can almost smell the sweat of his hard work. “Har Usan Tohoi” (Blackwater Bay), “Ehiin Hair” (Mother’s Love), “Anhni Tsas” (First Snow) and “Talin Ail” (A Ger in the Prairie) have soft and precise aspects to them. The soft being the grass, water and clouds; the precise being the details of the horses, focusing on their beauty.
The two brilliant artists are excellent candidates to show their work at international art festivals representing Mongolia’s skilled painters. The exhibition is one view until July 16, at Blue Moon Art Gallery

A.Sukhbat and G.Usukhbayar named ‘Undefeatable Giant of Nation’
July 9 (UB Post) A.Sukhbat and G.Usukhbayar, both holders of the Wide Giant of Nation wrestling title, received the highest ranking title for Mongolian wrestlers, Undefeatable Giant of Nation. Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj granted the title to A.Sukhbat and G.Usukhbayar on July 7. After the ceremony, the Mongolian President said, “Congratulations to the two Undefeatable Giants of Nation, A.Sukhbat and G.USukhbayar, on behalf of all Mongolians. I hope this year’s Naadam national holiday will be run well. Dear Mongolians, have a great Naadam.”

Celebrations and cultural events for Naadam Festival in provinces
July 9 (UB Post) - Genco Tour Bureau JSC have organized “Er bor khartsaga” 13th century Naadam Festival at the 13th Century Complex in Erdene soum, Tuv Province, on July 13. Members of five tribes participate in contests of archery, horseracing and wrestling as they were held in the time of Chinggis Khaan.
- The Governor’s Offices of Khentii Province and Galshar soum, and the Horse Trainers’ Association of Setsen Khan will hold the Racehorse Festival of Galshar on Shurmusun Chuluut Hill of Hujirt in Galshar soum, Khentii Province, on July 15. The local horses of Galshar have a long tradition of winning the “Doloon khoshuu danshig”, eastern regional Naadams that were held until the early 1920s. This event celebrates Galshar horses’ long tradition of victory.
- Yokhor Game will take place in Batshireet soum, Khentii Province, from July 17 to 18. The Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Khentii Province, Governor’s Office of Batshireet soum, Chinggis Ulgii tourist resort, and Olon Talst non-government organization will organize the event. This event is for domestic and foreign tourists. It includes the cultural performances and rituals of the Buryat Mongol ethnic group.
- A sheep and goat festival will take place at Shandnii Ar, Herder Demberel’s camp in Zuunbayan-Ulaan soum of Uvurkhangai Province. The festival highlights traditional Mongolian culture related to sheep and goats.
- The Steppe Marathon will take place in the Nalaikh District on July 20. The Ulaanbaatar City Tourism Board and Mongolian Marathon Association will organize the marathon.
- The Mongolian National Tourism Center and Tourism Association of Uvurkhangai Province will host the Felt Art Festival on July 22, at Teel River in Khujirt soum, Uvurkhangai Province. Visitors and tourists are invited to participate in the making of felt products and to meet the artisans. Felt artisans are often local nomadic people and the felt art festival celebrates their talents.
- The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, local government office, Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Uvurkhangai Province and Tourism Association of Uvurkhangai Province will hold the Yak Festival on July 23, at Undurhyasaa of Bat-ulzii soum, Uvurkhangai Province. The Yak Festival, held in the beautiful Orkhon valley, expands every year and the number of visiting tourists has also grown dramatically. Enjoy a yak beauty contest and watch brave Mongolians try to rope and ride a yak.
- The 30,000 Yak Festival will take place near Uvgunjargalant children’s camp, in Erdenetsogt soum, Bayankhongor Province. Erdenetsogt soum ranks third among Mongolia’s soums in its number of yaks. The Gurvantumen (30,000) Yak Festival is held to promote yak products.
- Mother Alungoo teaching festival is going to be held at Chandmani-Undur soum, Khuvsgul Province, on July 24 to 26. The principal objective of the event is to teach younger generations about the great sutra of Mother Alungoo, an 11th generation ancestor of Chinggis Khan. Wrestling, races, and children’s performances will be held. The key wisdom of Mother Alungoo is the power of unity.
- Altargana 2014, an international art and sporting event, is to take place in Dadal soum, Khentii Province, on July 25. It is an international celebration of Buryat tribes, showcasing the traditions of Buryats from Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude in Siberia, Kalmyk Mongols from north of the Caspian Sea in Russia, Tuvans, Inner Mongolians and Mongolians from around the world, featuring folk songs, dances, Buryat wrestling and archery competitions. The 1st festival highlighted folksongs by the local Buryat ethnic community in Dadal soum, Khentii Province in 1994. On its 20th anniversary, the festival is returning to Dadal soum once more.

‘Best of Classic Open Air’ at Chinggis Square
July 9 (UB Post) Marking the 375th anniversary of Ulaanbaatar, “Best of Classic Open Air” was held on July 7, at Chinggis Square, in collaboration with the Governor’s Office, the State Opera and Ballet Theater and Sound of Mongolia Co. Ltd.
The State Opera and Ballet Theater played national and international classical masterpieces. The audience filled the seats and enjoyed the event. Passersby were equally thrilled to watch the spectacle.
Two renowned conductors, J.Burenbekh and N.Tuulaikhuu, conducted the 25 scheduled performances.
The event showcased famous scenes from Mongolian ballet “Uran Khas” (Gracious Bird), the final scene of the “Genghis Khan” opera by B.Sharav, a scene from the opera “Uchirtai 3 Tolgoi” (Three Dramatic Characters) by B.Damdinsuren, and renowned international pieces such as “Requem” by G.Verdi, “La Spanola” by Chiara, “Faust” by Sh.Guno, “Carmen” by G.Bizet.
Chiara’s “La Spanola” was a particularly light-hearted and fun performance. The three female opera singers, in red fluffy dresses, delivered a beauitful and skillful performance. “Blue Danube” ballet by Strauss was an exquisite, heartrending performance, showing precision in rhythm and gesture.
A.Borodin’s “Prince Igor” dance of the Kipchaks was the bright gem of the whole event. Graceful ballerinas and strong vigorous male dancers were interchanged constantly to show the dynamics of human sexuality.
“Best of Classic Open Air” was a huge success, and young and old alike were captivated by the artistry.

Schedule of province Naadam festivals
July 9 (UB Post) The Organizing Committee of Naadam Festival has released a schedule of Naadam festivals in the centers of 21 provinces.
Province Naadams have the same components as the National Naadam Festival: opening ceremony, cultural shows, wrestling, horseracing, archery, ankle bone shooting, and evening entertainment.
Below are the locations of province level Naadams. Some provinces change the observed date in order to hold special events after the National Naadam Festival.

Cultural Events Program
JULY 11 AND 12,
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.: “Awakened Steppe” cultural festival
2:50 p.m. – 3:20 p.m.: “Horseback Mongolians” equestrian show, circus shows
7:50 a.m. – 8:20 a.m.: “Horseback Mongolians” equestrian show, circus shows
9:00 a.m.: Parachute landing performance
11:40 a.m. – 12:10 a.m.: “Horseback Mongolians” equestrian show, circus shows
6:00 p.m.:  Concert dedicated to elders of the Mongolian Mandolin Players Union
8:00 p.m.:  “Ulaanbaatar Evening” 3D show
9:00 p.m.:  “Let’s Sing Together About Motherland” concert at Chinggis Square
10:00 a.m.: “Mongolians in Deel” festival
JULY 09-13
6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m.:  “The Exciting World of Mongolian Art” Concert
2:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m.: “Little Boy with Little Colt” puppet performance
9:00 p.m.: “Best of Classic Open Air” classical music show
5:00 p.m.: “Swan Lake” ballet
5:00 p.m.: “Uchirtai Gurvan Tolgoi”  (Three Dramatic Characters) opera
7:00 p.m.: “Mongolian Beautiful Country” by Mongolian State Philharmonic Morin Khuur Ensemble
3:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.:  Mongol Nation’s International Dance Festival
JULY 8,9
4:00 p.m.:  The Best Performances of the Mongolian National Circus
JULY 9-13
7:00 p.m.:  The Best Performances of Mask Production
JULY 9-13
4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. : “Anthology of Mongolian National Art” concert
At the exhibition hall of UNION OF MONGOLIAN ARTISTS
JULY 10-19
10:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.: “Mongolian Beautiful Country” exhibition
JULY 10-13
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: art exhibition
JULY 10-13
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.: “Grand Art”, a joint exhibition of Mongolian and Korean artists
JULY 6-13
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.: “Culture of Steppe Warrior” exhibition
JULY 10-13
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.: “Caravan of Dashin” exhibition
JULY 9-12
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.: museum exhibition
JULY 9-13
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: “Ochirt Ayulgan Uildegchiin Nuts” exhibition
JULY 10-13
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: “King of Kings” wax sculpture exhibition
JULY 9-13
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.: “Heroes of Khalkh Gol” exhibition and “Culture of Mongolian Horses”

The Origin of the Three Manly Games
July 9 (UB Post) Naadam, which takes place from July 11th to 13th each year, literally translates to “games”. The festival is also known as eriingurvannaadam, or “the three manly games”.
Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one form or another. The origins of Naadam go back to primordial times, when the horse was first domesticated and the first hunters learned how to ride them. Though the historical evidence is not available, the festival’s roots can be traced to the cultures of Central Asian nomadic tribes such as the Huns, Scyphians and Turks. As early as 3000 B.C., the holiday has been a regular national event, where all nomadic tribes come together to show the best of their physical strength, riding and shooting skills; qualities vital to the survival of nomadic herders and hunters.
This annual festival tradition survived throughout centuries of the turbulent history of Central Asian nomads. After the 1921 National Revolution’s victory. On June 11, the revolutionaries mounted a successful attack on Urgoo, the capital city, and defeated the Chinese military garrison.
Nowadays, it is simply the Naadam celebration of Mongolian sport. The games held throughout the country during midsummer are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery.
The biggest festival, the Naadam of the Country, is held in the Mongolian capital, at Ulaanbaatar’s National Sports Stadium. Naadam begins with an elaborate opening ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horseback riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competition begins.
Chinggis Khan’s Nine Base White Banners, representing the nine tribes of the Mongols, are still ceremonially transported from the Government Palace to the Central Stadium to open the Naadam festivities. At these opening and closing ceremonies there are impressive parades of mounted cavalry, athletes and monks.
Another popular Naadam activity is the playing of games using shagai, sheep anklebones that serve as game pieces and tokens of both divination and friendship. In the larger Naadam festivals, these tournaments can take place in a separate venue.
In 2010, Naadam was inscribed on the Representative List of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
For many, the wrestling tournament is the focal point of Naadam. Either 512 or 1,024 wrestlers meet in a single-elimination tournament that lasts nine or ten rounds. Bokh (Mongolian traditional wrestling) is an untimed competition in which wrestlers lose if they touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet or hand. When picking pairs, the wrestler with the greatest fame has the privilege of choosing his own opponent. Each wrestler has an “encourager” called a zasuul. The zasuul sings a song of praise for the winning wrestler after rounds three, five, and seven.
Originally, bokh was a military sport intended to provide mainly strength, stamina and skills training to troops. Chinggis Khan (1206–1227), all the later emperors of the Mongol Empire (1206–1368) and the emperors of later Khanates were keen to support the sport, so wrestling events were included in local festivals, or Naadam. Wrestling became a key factor when deciding candidate rankings in imperial martial exams. Plus, outstanding wrestlers were entitled to high distinctions.
The rules of wrestling are rather simple: anybody who touches the ground first is defeated. The skills are demanding ones, as neither wrestler’s weight nor height is accounted for. Each Mongolian wrestler has a title of his own: Lion, Elephant, Falcon, – a sophisticated hierarchy of ranks bestowed based on the wrestler’s past performances. Categories such as Steady, Mighty and Strong are usually added to wrestler rank, to reflect their specific wrestling style or quality. The champion of the tournament is awarded the title of “The Titan”. Winners of the 7th or 8th stage (depending on whether the competition features 512 or 1,024 wrestlers) earn the title of zaan (elephant). The winner of the 9th or 10th stage, is called arslan (lion). In the final competition, all the zasuuls drop in the wake of each wrestler as they take steps toward each other. Two-time arslans are called titans or giants (avraga).
On September 17, 2011 the Mongolian National Wrestling Match was held with the participation of 6,002 wrestlers. It became the largest wrestling competition in the world and was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The wrestler’s zasuul is an on-field guide and coach. In early round competitions, when there are many wrestlers, most wrestlers don’t have their own zasuul. Successful wrestlers and those who get to the higher rounds, get their own zasuuls. A zasuul’s role is to hold the hat of his wrestler while he wrestles, and give him encouragement and motivation on the field. For instance, if the match is going slowly, a zasuul might slap the buttocks of his wrestler to encourage him to engage his opponent more quickly. Zasuuls are not technically coaches in the literal sense. They are usually an elder and friend of the wrestler, who is there on the field to serve as a guide and help set up a fair competition. Also, unlike other grappling sports, a zasuul does not have to be a former wrestler. When the match starts, the wrestlers are divided somewhat evenly into left and right sides, and sometimes in the higher rounds, a zasuul will sing the praise of his wrestler as an open challenge to competitors across the aisle. The other side’s zasuul will respond with praise of his own wrestler. The poetic praise of a wrestler by his zasuul comes from the wrestler with the highest rank on that side.
The traditional outfit wrestlers developed over the ages reflects simplicity and mobility. The standard gear of a wrestler includes:
A tight, collarless, heavy-duty, short-sleeved, red or blue  jacket. Traditionally made of wool, modern wrestlers have changed to looser materials such as cotton and silk. The front is open, but tied at the back with a simple string knot, thus exposing the wrestler’s chest. According to legend, on one occasion a wrestler defeated all other combatants and ripped open the zodog of the final challengers to reveal her breasts, showing everyone she was a woman. From that day on, the zodog had to reveal the wrestler’s chest.
Small, tight-fitting briefs made of red or blue cotton cloth. These make the wrestler more mobile. Also, they prevent one’s rival from easily taking advantage of long pants and material to trip on.
Leather boots, either in the traditional style (with slightly upturned toes), or commercial, Western style. Traditional gutal are often reinforced with leather strings around the sides for the purpose of wrestling.
Inner Mongolian wrestlers may also wear a jangga, a necklace decorated with strands of colorful silk ribbons. It is awarded to those who have gained considerable renown through contests.
It is impossible to imagine Mongols without a horse. Thousands of years ago, horses were the most reliable means of transportation. Therefore any festivity is not complete without horse racing. Reflecting this reverence for horses, awards and prestige goes not to the horse’s rider or owner, but to the horse. A peculiarity of Naadam horse racing that most often surprises foreigners, is that jockeys are usually children aged four to 13. It is believed that lightweight jockeys allow horses to perform most effectively.
Unlike Western horse racing, which consists of short sprints generally not much longer than two kilometers, Mongolian horse racing featured in Naadam is an endurance event, with races 15 to 30 kilometers long. The length of each race is determined by age class. There are six races for horses of different ages.
Before the races begin, the audience sings traditional songs and the jockeys sing a song called “Gingo”. The start of the race is a spectacular event, as hundreds of horses shoot out through clouds of dust, accompanied by the wild shouts of jockeys and cheering spectators.
Mongolian horses are well known for their stamina and strength. They stay outside year round, on open pastures, grazing on whatever grass is available. Despite their size, they can run for hours without tiring. One stallion from Uvs province, named EldenZeerd, once covered 250 kilometers in 14 hours. To prepare a horse for racing requires patience, and knowledge of horses. Uyachi (horse trainers) are natural veterinarians, individuals who command deep respect from all connoisseurs of horses.
Prizes are awarded to horses and jockeys at the completion of the race. The top five horses in each class earn the title of airgiyntav, and the top three are given gold, silver, and bronze medals. Also, the winning jockey is praised with the title of tumnyekh, or leader of ten thousand. The horse that finishes last in the Daaga race (two year-old horse race) is called “bayankhodood” (full stomach). A song is sung to the bayankhodood, wishing him luck to be next year’s winner.
Mongolians are said to be born with a bow in their hands, and they are trained and nourished to be good archers in childhood. They invented one of the most effective bows in military history, the Mongolian recurved composite bow, made with horn, bark and wood. Now the bow is proudly used in festivities.
Like Naadam’s races, Mongolian archery competitions are quite different from those held in the western world: the archers have not only one target, but take aim for hundreds of beadrs or surs (leather cylinders) mounted on a huge wall. Teams of five to ten men and women (women began participating some decades ago) have to hit 33 surs from a distance of 75 meters for men, and 65 meters  for women. Today’s targets are four meters across and 50 cm high. The winner is the first team to hit all targets. Uuhai is a song sung when the archer is aiming, with singers changing intonation if the target is hit. This practice comes from times when the targets were 200 meters away. The song was a good way for spectators and participants to know if the target was hit. Winners of the game are granted the title of mergen (national marksman or markswoman).
Five lines engraved on an ancient Mongolian target immortalize the phenomenal record of Yesuhei-baatar, saying that his arrow hit its target from a distance of 536 meters. In the past, Mongolians used three types of bows; big hand (165-170 cm), average hand (160 cm), and small hand (150 cm). Today, Mongolians mostly use the average hand bow, which requires a force of 22 to 38 kg to draw. Arrows are made of pine wood with feather fins, allowing it to reach distances of 900 meters.
Naadam archery attracts individual archers as well as teams. Male archers shoot forty arrows at each target. Judges in traditional dress stand by the targets, raising their hands in the air to indicate the quality of the shot, along with uuhai, but they surprisingly never get injured.
The meals served during the festival are also a good reason to head there. You’ll be able to taste khuushuur (a delicious fried meat dumpling) Mongolian-style meat, bread and dried curds, among other traditional food, all accompanied with tea and bowls of airag, a Mongolian alcoholic drink made from fermented mare’s milk.
Enjoy the variety and tradition of Naadam!

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