Culture of Mongolia

Culture of Mongolia

The Culture of Mongolia has been heavily influenced by the Mongol nomadic way of life. The nomadic way of lifestyle is still practiced today in the rural areas of the country. Nomads follow a seasonal routine raising and breeding the five main types of stock – goat, sheep, cattle (including yaks), camel and horse, migrating from place to place following the most favorable pastures and campsites. Other important influences are from Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism, and from China. Since the 20th century, Russian and, via Russia, European cultures have had a strong effect on Mongolia.

Language

The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia. It belongs to the Ural-Altaic language family, which includes Kazakh, Turkish, Korean and Finnish. Today more than 10 million people speak Mongolian. They live in Mongolia, Buriat republic of Russian federation, Inner Mongolia in China, Shingjan and Gansu regions of China, Tibet and even a few number of people living in the State of New Jersey in the USA . In Mongolia, the Khalkha dialect, written in Cyrillic, is predominant. The classical Mongolian script, also known as Uyghurjin, was the first writing system created specifically for the Mongolian language, and was the most successful until the introduction of Cyrillic in 1946.

Religion

Shamanism – Shamanism goes back in Mongolian history long before Chinggis Khan’s time, but it was Chinggis Khan that made it into such a fundamental part of the Mongolian tradition. At that time the Mongolians were worshipped “Hoh Tenger” (blue skies). According to this belief the skies are the father, and the earth is the mother of all beings in the universe. As a civilization totally dependent on the forces of nature, the Mongolians worshipped the various elements of nature, praying to their ancestors who have transformed into mythical spiritual animals to provide them with good weather, health and success. Though oppressed during communist time, Shamanism is still practiced in Mongolia, and people who seek help will approach a Shaman for a blessing or cure and even to get hints about their future.

Buddhism- Mongolians have followed Buddhism since the 16th century, when the Mongolian king, Altan Khan, was converted by Tibetan lamas. Mongolians follow Tibetan Buddhist teachings, (also called Lamaism), the body of religious Buddhist doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and the Himalayan region. Today, Mongolia still embraces its Buddhist heritage. Monasteries are being restored, and are once again crowded with worshippers. The Dalai Lama is an enormously popular figure and has visited the country several times. For many Mongolians, the practice of Buddhism is flavored with traces of Shamanism, an even more ancient spirituality.

Other Religions– Mongolia also has a small Muslim community — about 6 per cent of the population. These are mostly ethnic Kazakhs living in the far west of the country.

Arts

Mongolian traditional music composes a wide range of instruments and uses for the human voice found almost nowhere else. For instance, the Mongol Khoomii may be fascinating for foreigners. It is a musical, which can be delivered with a help of a guttural voice and specific way of breathing. One tone comes out as a whistle-like sound, the result of the locked breath in the chest being forced out through the throat in a specific way, while a lower tone sounds as a base.

The unique traditional singing style is known as or long Urtiin duu or long songs. It is one of the most ancient genres of Mongolian musical art, a professional classical art of the 13th century. Urtiin duu involves extraordinarily complicated, drawn-out vocal sounds. It has philosophical style, evocative of vast, wide spaces and it demands great skill and talent from the singers in their breathing abilities and guttural singing techniques.

Morin Khuur

Another popular form of art in Mongolia is the playing of the Morin Khuur, the Horse Headed Fiddle. It is used in Khoomii singing and in other forms of traditional music. The origins of the Morin Khuur lie with the Chinese two-stringed fiddle. With its typical horse-head carving crowning the instrument, it plays a major part in all classic Mongolian forms of music. To this day people of all ages play it

Mongolia in Brief

Mongolian Food and Drinks

Mongolian cuisine is much influenced by the continental climate that dominates the region, and also a bit by the Russian and Chinese cultures. Meat and dairy form the staple diet of this nomadic cuisine, with the use of vegetables being limited. The meat of horse, yak, beef, lamb and even camel is consumed as delicacies.

Some traditional dishes:
Dairy products in Mongolia food variety differ greatly in terms of their taste. These products are called ‘tsagaan idee’ and include a lot of milk. The inclusion of milk denoted purity, kindness and unselfishness. Other ingredients include aaruul (dried curd) and urum (thick cream), Mongolian butter and kefir or soft yogurt

 

Dairy products

 

 

 

 

Airag 

AiragAirag is the traditional national beverage of Mongolia. The most important animal of the Mongols is the horse. Horses don’t only serve as riding animals, the mare’s milk also has a special status. Airag refreshens and sparkles softly on the tongue. It contains a small amount of carbon dioxide, and up to 2% of alcohol. The taste is slightly sour, but quite agreeable after getting used to it. The exact taste depends both of the characteristics of the pastures and the exact method of production. The beverage is a rich source of vitamins and minerals for the nomads.

 

 

 

Buuz

Mongolian_buuzBuuz are filled with minced mutton or beef, which is flavoured with onion and/or garlic and salted. Occasionally, they are flavoured with sprouted fennel seeds and other seasonal herbs. Mashed potato, cabbage, or rice may be added as well.

The meat ball is then placed inside a small pocket of dough which is folded around the ball with a small opening at the top and in the chef’s own personal style. The buuz is then steamed and eaten by hand, with the dough pocket catching the juices of the meat

 

Khuushuur

KhuushuurKhuushuur (Mongolian: хуушууp [xʊ́ːʃʊr]) is a kind of meat pastry or dumpling popular in Mongolia, similar to Russian and other cuisines’ chiburekki. The meat, either beef or mutton, is ground up and mixed with onion (or garlic), salt and other spices. The cook rolls the dough into circles, then places the meat inside the dough and folds the dough in half, creating a flat half-circular pocket. The cook then closes the pockets by pressing the edges together. A variety of Khuushuur has a round shape made by pressing the dough and mince together using the dough roller.

After making the pockets, the cook fries them in oil until the dough turns a golden brown. The Khuushuur is then served hot, and can be eaten by hand.

At the Naadam Festival in Ulan Bator, there were a large number of stalls selling freshly made khuusuur which were snapped up in high numbers by locals gathering to watch the games.

 

Mongolian traditional food khorkhog

 

Mongolian traditional food khorkhog
Khorkhog (Mongolian: Xopxoг) is a barbecue dish in Mongolian cuisine. Khorkhog (horhog) is made by cooking pieces of meat inside a container which also contains hot stones and water, and is often also heated from the outside
Preparation
To make khorkhog, Mongolians take lamb (goat meat can be substituted) and cut it into pieces of convenient size, leaving the bone. Then the cook puts ten to twenty fist-sized rocks in a fire. When the rocks are hot enough, the rocks and the meat are placed in the chosen cooking container. Metal milk jugs are a traditional choice, although any container sturdy enough to hold the hot rocks will serve.
The cook adds other ingredients as desired (carrots, cabbage, potatoes) to make a stew, then adds salt and other spices. The ingredients should be layered, with the vegetables on top. Finally the cook pours in a sufficient quantity of water to create a steam bubble inside the jug, which he then closes with a lid.
The heat of the stones and the steam will cook the meat inside the jug. The cook can also put the jug on a fire or the stove if the stones are not hot enough. The stones will turn black from the heat and the fat they absorb from the lamb. The jug should remain covered while the cook listens to and smells the meal to judge when it is ready. The stones can take up to an hour and a half to cook the meat sufficiently. When finished, the khorkhog is ready to eat. The cook hands out portions of meat along with the hot stones which are tossed from hand to hand and are said to have beneficial properties. Diners usually eat khorkhog with their fingers, although one can use a knife to slice the meat off the bone

Suutei Tsai

Suutei tsaiThe Suutei tsai or tea with milk is the most consumed drink of Mongolia and you will be proposed some each time you’ll visit a Mongolian family. Once in the yurt, it’s the first thing you’ll be proposed, and you’ll have to accept the cup with your right hand (in the same way as for airag) and put it to your mouth before putting it on the table.

The tea with milk is made with cow milk mixed with water and black tea leaves. It’s lightly salted and sometimes serves as base for a soup, for example banshtai tsai, tea with raviolis inside.