Tuesday, March 20, 2012

UNDERSTANDING NOMADIC WAY OF LIFE

        Traditional Mongolian life is based on herding of five types of animals: cattle (including yaks), sheep, goats, camels and horses. The products obtained from these animals satisfy nearly all of Mongolian family's basic needs: beef, mutton,8 and goat meat, supplemented by a wide variety of dairy products, constitute the Mongolian diet;sheep wool, processed into felt, is used to make clothing, bedding, and insulation for the ger; horses, camels and yaks provide transportation and animal hair and bones are even used to produce musical instruments, tightrope and children's toys. The domestication of animals and emergence of the nomadic lifestyle developed relatively late in Asian history, long after agricultural techniques had become established. In many respects nomadic herding is more complex activity then agricultural, for it requires the ability the domesticate animals, control their feeding and reproduction, and develop techniques for use of domestic animals products for food clothing, and shelter. Nomadism also demands a precise understanding of natural cycles and suitability of different areas for pasturage for each type of herd.
         Nomadic movements of Mongol herders are not conducted randomly, but according to precisely- defined traditions. Mongolian nomadic families move their animals into different general area of pasturage for each of the four season, referred to as uvuljuu( winter pasturage), khavarjaa (spring pasturage), zuslan (summer pasturage), and namarjaa (autumn pasturage). During the winter and spring the herds are generally kept in a fixed location to conserve their strength but its depends on where are you live. In the summer and autumn the family will move the herds several times within the larger area of pasturage, so as to give the animals more if a chance to fatten by grazing on fresh vegetation. In the warmer month the herding family leaves behind many of its possession, travelling in a smaller and lighter ger with minimal furniture. In forested-steppe regions, where precipitation is more abundant, families move between six and eight times a year, over an large distance of 15-20 kilometers; in mountains and dry steppe regions families mover farther and more frequently, traveling as for as 150 k in a single move. Nomadic patterns in the Gobi are more directly influenced by weather and location of springs, drought or extreme snowfall can force families to move great distance in search of adequate water and pasturage.
         For winter pasturage a shelter area is chosen, and animals are kept in a roofed enclosure with a insulating bed of dried dung. In the spring, as the animals are at their weakest, the family moves to a pasturage which both has early vegetation and is free of rocky, boggy, or slippery areas that might tax the animals strength. The herding family moves most frequently in the summer months, bringing the herds to open area with abundant vegetation. in autumn, as the animals must fatten in preparation for winter, the animals are taken to a quit location-far from roads or settlements-where they can graze in peace.
         Moving from one pasturage to next is considered an important and ceremonial event. Before moving, the head of the family dresses in his finest clothing and rides out at midday on his best horse to examine the new pasturage. Once he has chosen a suitable location he places three stone on the ground, symbolically in the form of hearth, to mark the future site of each of the family's gers.The family then chooses an auspicious fay for moving and begins to pack the household objects in advance of the move. The move  itself is subdued, as it is considered extremely unlucky for any argument or commotion to occur during the move or its preparation. On the moving day the family's gers are dismantled and all possession put into oxcarts, with the most valuable items-the hearth and roof flame, chest, religions icons, head of the household's personal objects-being placed in the head of cart. Families along the route followed by the movers invite the passersby in for tea; and upon setting up their home in its new location, the family welcome new neighbors.

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