Mongolia Local Customs

  • Local Customs
    by JessieLang
  • Local Customs
    by JessieLang
  • Interior
    Interior
    by JessieLang

Mongolia Local Customs

  • Eat local food - Filled Pockets

    One of the most common meals in Mongolia, particularly in small cafes or fast-food restaurants, is Khuushuur, fried pies/pasties usually made with minced beef or mutton, but available in veggie form in some places (we found a cabbage/carrot version, and a delicious potato version). Plain meat can be a bit bland, and they are occasionally made with...

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  • Buddhist Temples are holy Places

    In Mongolia more than 90% of the population is Buddhist, Originally comes from Tibet in sixteenth Century. All around Mongolia used to have more than seven hundred temples and buddhist complexs But unfortunately almost all of them were distroyed during the Communist Purge in 1937 and many monks were killed as well. Just few temples were kept as...

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  • Building a Fire in Your Ger

    I grew up with a fireplace in my home but my boyfriend didn't but he mastered the fire building in our Ger. It gets really cold during the night in the Ger so it's important to keep the fire going which we did NOT master during out stay. One night we froze to death and the other night we were sweating our asses off.

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  • Dogs

    They say don't stroke the dogs in Mongolia, as they are responsible for guarding the house/ger and family and aren't used to being pets. No-one seems to mind, however, and the dogs absolutely love it and will beg for more! Possibly best to keep it to a minimum unless you want a crowd of affection hungry mutts following you around!

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  • Drinking Customs

    If someone pours a drink for you, don't reach for it before they hand it to you, wait for them to offer it. Never take it with your left hand, only the right, and it's even better if you support your right arm with your left hand on the elbow.If you're drinking while travelling (believe me this is quite likely), the first shot of vodka should be...

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  • Shamanism

    The earliest religion of the Mongols was shamanism, and it's still practiced today. An ovoo is a pile of stones and animal bones and skulls. It's seen everywhere in Mongolia - especially in the National parks, but also in Ulaanbaatar. The ovoo is a part of the shaman religion.

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  • Nomadic family on the move

    We arrived at the Hustai National Park Ger camp at about lunchtime after driving from Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and through the middle of a busy UB. Just as we approached the national park's main gate, a nomadic family were trying to enter their small truck, complete with packed ger on the back, through the gates but the poles of the ger were...

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  • Naadam Festival - Horse racing

    There are normally six categories of horse racing depending on the age of horses: for example, a two-year-old horse, called a shudlen, will race for 15km, while six andseven-year-old azrag and ikh nas horses race for up to 30km. There are no tracks or courses; it is just open countryside. Jockeys - boys and girls aged between 5 and 13 years old -...

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  • Naadam Festival - Archery

    Archers use a bent composite bow made of layered horn, bark and wood. Usually, arrows are made from willows and the feathers are from vultures and other birds of prey. Traditionally dressed male archers stand 75m from the target, while women archers stand 60m from it. The target is a line of up to 360-round gray, red and/or yellow leather rings...

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  • Naadam Festival - Wrestling

    I started watching the wrestling at the beginning of day 2 (July 12th). Mongolian wrestling is similar to wrestling found elsewhere, except there are no weight divisions, so the biggest wrestlers (and they are big!) are often the best. Mongolian wrestling also has no time limit- the bout will continue with short breaks. It will end only when the...

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  • Naadam Festival

    The biggest event of the Mongolian year for foreigners and locals alike is the Naadam Festival held in during three days in July. Part family reunion, part fair and part nomad Olympics, Naadam (meaning 'holiday' or 'festival') has its roots in the nomad assemblies and hunting extravaganzas of the Mongol armies. The communists renamed the festival...

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  • Sheep/goat herding

    This is a common scene in Mongolia. There are various methods used for sheep herding such as on motorbikes, by horse or by foot. Herdsman use a variant of the lasso called an uurga which consists of a rope loop at the end of a long pole.

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  • Mongolian Food

    The traditional Mongolian Cuisine primarily consists of dairy products and meat. The nomads of Mongolia sustain their lives directly from the products of their animals (horses, cattle, yaks, camels, sheep, and goats). Cooking in the ger normally happens in a wok on a small stove using wood or dried animal dung (argal) as heating material.Two of the...

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  • Sheep/goat shearing

    We set off one morning during my 12-day tour around Mongolia and stopped off at this herding family who were sheering there sheep and goats, all by hand, of course. The family consisted of a husband and wife with her mother who was 70. They had 3 daughters - aged 12, 14, and 16. They around 300 of sheep and goats and we were told that they make...

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  • Mongolian beer

    I was very impressed with Mongolian beer and, I have to say, I sampled many different types with my favourite being Sengur. Others include Chinggis which is draft and quite strong; Mongol which is another draft but not as strong as Chinggis; Borgio - a bottled beer in three varieties, regular, gold and light and Tiger, which is like the Japanese...

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  • Gers

    We stopped by a few nomadic families living in gers - a portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed circular dwelling structure, often called a yurt, during our tour around Mongolia. They have wood lattice-framed walls which are collapsible, light and strong where wood poles rest and hold up the central crown which is also held in place by two or...

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  • Ovoo

    You'll see these all over the countryside in Mongolia. An ovoo is a type of shamanistic cairn, usually made from rocks or from wood with a wooden pole or tree branch at the top with a blue khadag, a ceremonial silk scarf symbolic of the open sky. Ovoos are often found at the top of mountains and in high places, like mountain passes. They serve...

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  • Mongolian Names

    Mongolian names are similar in style to those of native American Indians, who are believed to have migrated from Mongolia to America thousands of years ago.Male names tend to emphasise strength and bravery. The twentieth century Mongolian revolutionary leader, after whom the main square in Ulan Baatar is named, was called Sukhe Baatar, which means...

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  • Libation

    When drinking alcohol with Mongolians, you should not commence until after someone has performed the traditonal libation. This involves flicking drops of the alcoholic drink - usually vodka - downwards to the earth, upwards to the sky, left to the wind and right to the water. This has its roots in the ancient animistic traditions of the country.

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  • “Snuff bottle and Pipe”

    Traditionally in Mongolia the main accessories carried by man are Carved stone snuff-bottle, Flint and Knife set ( Khet Khutga ) that hangs from the sash of the Del. History says the use of tobacco was adopted by Mongolians in the middle of 17th century . Then 20th century the pipe and the snuff had become universal accessories of the man. Actually...

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  • Heap of Stones are everywhere in...

    Ovoo is a traditional monument associated primarily with the worship of the mountains and sky. Generally it is a heap of stones and found on the top of the mountains, hills and other high places. Even many Ovoos are built simply to show passes or borders but most of them are considered as a sacred monuments.Mongolians will never pass the Big Ovoos...

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  • Marmot hunting, just after raining!!!!!

    Hunting marmot is important to local people’s life for fo0d and also it helps for their economy, unfortunately everything that might bring money is being hunted or harvested these days. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Chinese tried to cash in on the marmot fur boom imported by huge amounts from Mongolia. They didn't observe the Mongolian...

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  • Ideal Cultural tips, good to mind

    Cultural Tips It’s always worth to know little of the culture, traditional way of doing things when you’re coming to new country. So once when you’re on a way to Mongolia at first of all please take a look that how you supposed to act in there, Basically Mongolians have thousands of superstitions and beliefs in nature as well Heaven, Also the life...

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  • Ger visitors

    If you happen to be staying overnight in a Ger - whether visiting people or staying in a slightly down-market Ger camp, do not be surprised if locals drop by to find out how you are and how good you are at drinking. People might drop by at any time. The drunkenness parameter indicate the more drunk, the later your guests might come. And they will...

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  • That's Not a Girl

    One custom that you might want to know is that Mongolian nomads don't cut their boy's hair until they are about 4 years old. This takes place in a ceremony and is a big family affair and out comes the food, drink and music. So before you offer up girly gifts to a child that you presume to be a girl, you might want to ask as sometimes you can't...

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  • Mongolian Food

    I'll be frank with you, Mongolian food was not the most exciting thing to discover. Quite a lot of it consists of meat and flour in various forms and combinations. Mutton is quite a common food to find and I don't like it so that was a trial for me. A popular dish is buuz, which is meat filled dumplings, not bad but after having them so many times...

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  • Life in a Ger

    The nomadic Mongolians live in a type of structure known as a ger. It has a round wooden, trellis type frame that is wrapped in heavy felt and then covered in canvas. There is an opening at the top which the stovepipe comes out. The canvas can be pulled over to cover the opening in bad weather. I was told that a ger can be erected in as little as...

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  • Ovoos

    Ovoos are man-made piles of rocks, branches and other items and are considered sacred places by the Mongolian people. You will find them all over. People will come to these shrines to pay their respects to the gods or spirits. Quite often you will see prayer flags tied onto the ovoos or wrapped around them. Some of the ovoos are very large and are...

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  • The definite works on the ger

    The dissertation "We are all Insects on the back of our Motherland" by Benedikte V. Lindskog (University of Oslo, Institute of Social Anthropology, 2000.), is about "place, space and movement of the Halh Nomads of Monglia". That was the sub-title.The dissertation conncects the rules and rgulations and behavior and order of people in the ger with...

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  • Dance & music

    The dancing & music of Mongolia are unique and impressive as well as colourful. In order to appreciate, you should catch at least one of these performances when you are in Ulaanbaatar, the country's capital.

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  • Use two hands or your right hand

    When giving or accepting anything (especially gifts, food, tea etc.) use both hands, if not use your right hand (never use left hand).Never throw things or drop things when giving to someone, but hand in to the recipient. Even if you are across the ger from the person whom you're giving something, get up, walk up to the person and give it hand to...

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  • Respect the Family's Hearth

    Fire is sacred for Mongols and it would be highly offensive to put anything 'unclean' into someone's hearth. It is good to be environmentally concious and try to dispose your garbage into the fire, but before you do that ask your host if that's ok to go into the fire. For example, it's ok to put your candy wrapper into the fire. Not ok - tissues in...

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  • Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khan)

    The ancient conqueror Genghis Khan is known as Chinggis Khan in Mongolia, and he is still very much alive and respected till today. You can find paintings and carvings of Chinngis Khan all around Mongolia, and they even have many things named after him such as Chinggis Khan Hotel, Chinggis Khan Beer, Chinggis Khan Restaurant etc.

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  • Stone stupas

    You can see colourful stupas made from piling up stones at the side of the road when you are travelling across Mongolia. This is of Buddhist significance and it is said that if you walk clockwise around the stupa for 3 rounds, it will bring good luck to you. Also leaving a personal belonging at the stupa will also bring good luck.

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  • Horse head musical instrument

    The most famous musical instrument is the horse head instrument which looks like a violin (can't remember the name). You will get to see this instrument during the musical performances, and you can even buy it as a souvenir if you want.

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  • Airag, the national drink

    Airag is actually fermented mare's milk and it is the national drink of Mongolia. You have a chance to try airag and some Mongolian snacks when you visit the Mongolian family in their ger. Airag tastes blend and salty which does not really appeal to the taste buds. However, you should try a little airag for experience and a true Mongolian...

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  • Archery

    Carrying on from ancient times, archery is still very much alive in Mongolia today especially during the Naadam Festival. You will see men and women dress up in their colourful traditional costumes and compete in the archery contest which is a delight to watch. They use blunt arrows during the competition and the objective is to hit as near to the...

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  • Wrestling

    Wrestling is one of the traditional sports in Mongolia and is still very highly regarded till today. You can watch the wrestling event at the Naadam Festival. In fact, Mongolia has won some Olympic medals in wrestling, which is one of their strongest sporting events.

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  • Hommii

    Hommii is a very specialise type of traditional music, and the musical instrument is actually different types of sound made by a person (using his throat and lung energy) together with some background music. Hommii is very difficult to master and is indeed a very unique form of art. A visit to Mongolia is not complete without listening to the...

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  • Horse Riding

    The Mongolian are expert horse riders and this skill is passed from generation to generation, even till today. Young children learn to ride horses even before they can even walk, and the horse is still the primary mode of transportation in the vast land with very few roads and vehicles.

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  • Nomadic way of life

    Even in today, most Mongolians still lead a nomadic and simple life in the vast and rugged land, moving from place to place in search of greener pasture. The weather in Mongolia can be harsh especially the very cold and dark winter which lasts for almost half a year.

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  • FIRE IS HOLY .../ LE FEU EST SACRE ../...

    WHO DRINKS WATER IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY MUST FOLLOW THE WAYS AND CUSTOMS(mongolian proverb)FIRE is holy and so don't throw anything inside asking before.RESPECT mongolian traditions and they will show you what to do and what to not do .DRINK airak when you arrive in a new gerMongolian respect NATURE, they never throw anything in the nature and so...

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  • Take a good look at the Ovoos

    The ovoos are real living cultural institutions and memorials.People stop, circambulate and give offerings to the ovoo when they arrive at one on the trail or road. The offering may not be more than a nicely shaped stone or an empty vodka bottle.It can also be something significant to an ailment or of some value (crutches, airag, vodka, car parts,...

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  • Ovoos and stone rectangles

    Ovoos are holy structures similar to Tibetan chortens, and the blue prayer flags are for the god(s) of heaven. Offerings are given for specific purposes or generally for safe travel whenever they are located along roads and in passes. Pay your respects!Certainly do not use it as a trash repository, even if some may look slightly like it. Do not pee...

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  • Entering a Ger

    Do not enter a Ger (it is GER, not the hated Russian term Yurt, in Mongolia these days), without knowing approximately what you are doing. In this simple dwelling, there are so many things to observe and things to consider that a lesson beforehand is worthwhile.Lonely Planet's Mongolia book is giving a good explanation. A Norwegian anthropologist...

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Mongolia Local Customs

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