By now Mongolians main religion is Buddhism with 90% of the whole population are Buddhist. The rest are Muslims, Shamanists, and few Christians. Mongolia’s first religio was Shamanism, it alose during the clan structure. At that time it was simple, just magic. According to archeological findings about 100000-400000years before the people lived on the land of today’s Mongolia had this religion. On the ancient earth, every clan had a belief about their origin that they were descended from an animal or plant, and they called it tutelary genius. The Mongols adorted Deer of Wolf.
The first Buddhist temples in Mongolia were constructed during the Hun period, which began in the third century BC. In the Mongol Nirun state period, 330-550 AD, Buddhism became the official state religion, and more then ten kings were given honourary Buddhist titles, yet Buddhism did not come to be practiced by the common people, who continued to follow ancestral shamanist beliefs. Buddhism became the state religion of Mongolia for the second time during the period of the Yuan Empire, when Khubilai Khaan made Pagva Lama the “national teacher” of Mongolia. After the collapse of the Yuan Empire, however, Shamanism was again revived as the most popular religion.
In the 16th century, Buddhism became Mongolian state religion for the third time. In 1587 Altan Khaan first conferred the title of “Dalai Lama”, on Sodnomjamts, leader of the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The peak of Buddhist development in Mongolia occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; with the support of the Manchus more than 700 monasteries were constructed throughout the country, housing more than 30 thousand Lamas. In 1911 Mongolia became an independent religious state with the 8th Bogd Khaan as its leader. Following the People’s Revolution in 1921, however, Buddhism went into decline, and in the 1930’s and 1940’s, almost all Mongolian monasteries were destroyed by the government in an effort to abolish religion from the state.
Shamanism originated in prehistoric times and likely grew out of the tradition of nature-worship. It continues to be practiced amongst a few Mongolian ethnic groups – the Darkhad, Buryat, Khotgoid, Uriankhai and Tsaatan. A shaman is one who represents a clan or tribe in communicating with the spirits of ancestors and of nature. The Shaman typically communicates with the “other world” by entering into a trance, achieved through the performance of a rhythmic dance accompanied by the beating of a skin drum, and sometimes assisted with the use of alcohol, upon emerging from this trance the shaman communicates the messages of the spirits.
Mongolian culture is well-known for its hospitality. Traditionally a Mongolian, even during his absence, will leave his ger unlocked, in order to allow any passer by to rest and enjoy the treats which are left on the table for visitors. Mongolian’s traditionally lead a pastoral, nomadic lifestyle. Because of the climate and short growing season, animal husbandry defines the nomadic lifestyle, with agriculture playing a secondary role. Nomads raise 5 types of animals- goats, sheep, cattle, including Yaks, camels and horses. That provide meat, dairy products, transportation, and wool.
The Tsam masked dance which originated in the 8th century, is one of the significant rituals in Tibetan Buddhism. It is performed by young lamas wearing costumes and detailed masks representing different apostles and devils, animals, or real people. The dance primarily shows characters from various Buddhist legends, as well as animals symbolizing good and bad influences.
In the 19th century, more than 500 of the 700 monasteries in Mongolia had their own local variations of the ceremony. The elaborate costumes and papier-mache masks used in Tsan dances in the early 20th century have been preserved in several museums, most notably the Choijin Lama museum. In recent times these costumes have also been put to use in revivals of the tsam ceremony, the performance iof which ceased during the socialist period of Mongolian history.
Morin Khuur ( Horse Head Fiddle)
There is a legend about the Morin Khuur.
Once upon a time there was a young man. He had a wonderful steed. The horse was a special one, it was faster than a bird and could instantaneously cover great distances. When the steed perished the young man decided to preserve the memory of his steed’s heat at one end, covered the other end with leather made from the steed’s skin and made 2 strings from the tail. He started playing the Morin Khuur describing his beloved steed’s steps, gallope, hurdle, trotting and neighing.
The Morin Khuur is most suitable to accompany the traditional long and short songs and melodies to regale the beauty of the country. Moreover, today the Mongolian musicians play classical music with the Morin Khuur and get a high appraisal from listeners and specialists from many countries.
Without doubt the most quintessential of Mongolian instruments is the Morin Khuur, which loosely translates as the horse instrument but more affectionately as the Horse Head Fiddle. The Morin Khuur is two stringed spiked fiddle. The strings are made from the tail of a horse and run from the end of the spike at the base, over the wooden bridge on the body, over the nut and through the neck to the tuning pegs or ears. The strings are called thick and thin and also male and female.
Mongolian traditional music uses a wide range of instruments and employs the human voice as almost nowhere else in the world. There are different styles of Khuumii, depending on the method of air production. One of these emerges as a “whistle-like” sound the result of breath locked in the chest being forced out through the throat one way, while another tone is a deep bass. The Khuumii is the art when a skillful singer who produces several notes at once from deep in the throat. The Khuumii is widely used for describing sounds of nature, singing praises and folk songs.
Long song is one of the most ancient Mongolian singing style, dating back to the 13th century. The Mongolian long song accompanied with a “Morin Khuur” is a unique style of traditional singing. Mongolian long song is a perfected kind of art that demands a high class of performance and acute skills of a singers. Long song tells stories about the beauty of the land and daily life, with such popular titles as cool beautiful mountains, sun of melodies Universe and Four Seasons.
Traditional Mongolian dwelling, Ger and wedding ceremony
It turned out that one of the customs was that the bride’s family is hiding the bride to prevent the groom from taking her. After he had found her they came to the ger. Before them the groom’s side of the family had built them a new ger and the bride’s side filled it up with the needed furnish. After they came the actual wedding ceremony started. Usually a monks lead it. After taking a photograph, everybody went inside the new ger, and eating and drinking started and never stopped it seemed. For 3 days the partying went on because in autumn there is a lot of work to do and not everybody is capable of joining in on the same day.