Mongolia Culture and Literature


Friendly and hospitable, the Mongols retain an indomitable spirit of freedom. Breeding, a traditional economic source of the long nomadic past, is the basis of Mongolian customs. Animals constitute at the same time the wealth and passion of the Mongols who have in the horse the most faithful friend and feelings of tenderness for all the little ones (camels, sheep), who keep in tents and inspire the lullabies of women. The Mongols learn to ride from early childhood and soon become very skilled in the saddle and expert tamers, taming the small and very fast przewalskii. Although they now easily have a home, they prefer the old felt tent (yurt) remained unchanged since the time of Genghis Khān (whose cult survives in eastern Mongolia with pilgrimages to the sanctuary of Ectingoro where his tomb is kept), cylindrical with a cone-shaped roof, large and comfortable. Anyone who passes a tent in Mongolia has the right to enter and will be accommodated with genuine simplicity.

According to animalerts, there are not many festivals in use: in December the cult of fire is celebrated with a festival that unites all the Mongols wherever they are scattered. They light a brazier consisting of a large tin plate full of fat and people kneel on its four sides. The Mongols hold in high esteem the woman, who enjoys full freedom and all the rights established for the man. Despite having undergone a strong Russian influence in every sector (theater, dance, music, sport), bohji-barildan), archery, horse racing, old dances; at the great festival that begins on 11 July (Naadam) and lasts three days (anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic) the Mongols converge in Ulan-Bator in long caravans. The meetings along the way are an opportunity to organize games, choreographies (often evoking battles), songs, music, of Central Asian and Chinese inspirations. At the heart of the national celebration, which ends at the stadium, are the wrestling competitions between the champions of the villages and tribes. The cuisine that plays an important part in the holidays is simple and not very varied, essentially based on sheep and mutton. The boiled meat (guriltai khool) mixed with pasta, the roast (ganbir) dominate), also used as a filling, offal and mutton head, treated with spices, herbs and with vegetables. Also much appreciated is zaidas, a salami obtained from the intestine of the mutton. The national drink is kumys, made from fermented mare’s milk. Besbodka or arki, a kind of vodka, and kvass, a fermented drink obtained from black bread and sugar, are also widespread.


Among the most interesting figures of the century. XX we can mention D. Natsagdorj (1906-1937), author of lyrics and short stories where the enthusiasm for the revival of civil and cultural life after the revolution is combined with the admiration for the past of his country; Zendijn Damdinsüren, essayist and storyteller, tied to topical issues, but also keeper and evocator of domestic values, and author of very sweet stories. The relationship with the historical and legendary past of Mongolia is evident in the work of the prose writers, in particular in the novels of C. Lodojdamba, and above all in the stories of Bj. Rintchen, known to scholars around the world as the founder of modern Mongolism in the fields of linguistic sciences, ethnography and folklore. He is responsible for the recovery of immense patrimony of shamanic and epic songs of the Mongolian oral tradition. The work of younger writers such as Londongijn Tüdev and Luwsandašijn Sodow also moves in the same context, Böchijn Baast goes back to the rich popular fairy tale. With Russian realism and cosmopolitanism, the taste for satire and theatrical dramatization in the European sense penetrated into Mongolia. It is represented in their work by C. Ojdov and Donrowyn Namdag, author of pièces of modern subjects and dramatizations of events and characters of the great Mongolian history that he has also recalled in his opera librettos. Sodnombaldširyn Bujannemech, who died in 1937, but whose complete works were re-edited between 1968 and 1974, and above all Lamdshawyn Wangan (1920-1968), who dictated the directions of contemporary literary historiography, are linked to the theater and literary historiography. Following the establishment of a democratic regime of national-liberal inspiration, new young writers have established themselves in the Mongolian literary panorama; among them above all worthy of mention appear Gombojab Suvanciceg and Dorji Tsevel. Favorite themes of the new Mongolian literature are the re-evaluation of the traditional Mongolian past (in the first place of the figure of Genghis Khan) and of the main values ​​of the nomadic culture. Among the most important figures are Galsan Tschinag (b. 1944), author of essays and poems, and some young poets such as P. Batkhuyag, R. Emujin and T. Bavuudorj. A prominent personality in today’s Mongolian literature and culture is also G. Mend-Ooyo (b.1952), founder in 2005 of the Mongolian Academy of Culture and Poetry, and author of numerous collections, among which Golden Hill and Nomadic Lyrics (2007).

Mongolia Culture