Text for Genghis Khan Exhibit volunteers – Ger (home)
at Discovery Place Charlotte NC
Nomadic families live in felt covered tents called “Gers” in Mongolian – Ger means house/home in the Mongolian Language – Russian speaking people call them “Yurts”. The traditional Ger on display is filled with antique objects of traditional Mongolian Nomadic Herders. For many centuries before Genghis Khan and up until now many Mongolians live as Nomads. Mongolian Nomads relocate at minimum three to four times a year with the seasons to find good grazing areas as well as water for their livestock. They still travel by horse and camel although now in modern times they use trucks as well. One third of all Mongolians still live as Nomads. Mongolia is the last horse based culture in the world. It only takes a few hours to assemble a Ger from its component parts by the Nomadic family. The weather in Mongolia is very dry, hot in summer and blistering cold in the winter. Additional layers of felt are added to insulate the Ger in temperatures that can dip below - 50 and sometimes with wind chill reaching below – 100 with strong winds from the north and west. Wood when it is available, dried animal dung when it is not is used to fuel the stove in the middle of the Ger. The traditional robes worn by Mongolians are called Dels, winter Dels are made and lined with wool for warmth against the harsh conditions – silk sashes in various colors serve as belts. In other times of the year with moderate temperatures Dels are made from patterned silk of different colors. Traditional Mongolian boots have an upturned toe so as to not disturb the land as you pass through. Traditional head gear for men and women are embroidered rounded silk hats - the men’s will have an upright spire in the center of the top. Gers always face south in the Mongolian tradition, opposite the fierce winds. The door to the Ger is the only entrance and exit – it will have a colorful paint scheme. Traditionally when guest are expected the husband will sit on the north side of the Ger opposite the door, the wife will be on the right side tending the cooking and guest will sit on the left side of the Ger. For Mongolians of the Buddhist faith there will be a shrine on the North side of the Ger opposite the door. There will be paintings called Tankas, depicting Buddhist deities. Mongolian Buddhism like Tibetan Buddhism has many Gods and fables and respects the Dalai Lama as Buddha’s holy representative. Mongolian Nomads are very welcoming. Mongolia is the least populated country in all of the world with only 3 million people in a country half the size of the Continental United States. Conditions are very harsh. Nomads welcome visitors understanding that the food and shelter they offer can be life-saving. Visitors are always offered snuff from a man’s fancy curved snuff bottle. Visitors are traditionally served sweet camel’s milk tea, dried cheese and in celebration, fermented mare’s milk, a strong alcoholic drink called Airag. Nomads churn milk to make butter. They also make their own goat, sheep and yak cheese as well as yogurt from goat’s milk. Mutton is the staple of their diet. On the open steppe they will gut the sheep, skin it – heat stones then put the diced meat along with available vegetables and water back into the skin with the heated stones – sew it up and let it cook like a pressure cooker until the meal is ready – no pot needed. While nomads still live with equipment such as you see here, those who can afford it may have portable solar panels that power electric lights and even satellite TV. Mongolian children are also avid readers going through many books. Thanks to many regional schools, Mongolia has a higher literacy rate than the United States. A favorite game of Nomadic Mongolian children is a form of dice played with sheep ankle knuckle bones, depending on which side of the knuckle lands upward, a player may win or lose. Music is a big part of Mongolian life – Men may master throat singing, a strange sounding combination of two or more harmonies produced at the same time, one of them a low growl and the other a high whistling sound. Women sing the ‘long songs’ which have been passed down for centuries without ever have been written down. They may be the oldest continuously sung melodies in the world. Some Nomads learn to play the Morin Khuur - a horse hair fiddle. Genghis Khans army brought the playing of instruments with a bow to Europe. Before then Europeans only plucked the strings of their instruments. Mongolian men carry daggers in their silk belt along with leather containers for dry tinder and a stone to strike on rocks to start a fire. In the past nomads carried swords, now many have guns and rifles. Wolves are still a threat to their flocks. Traditionally some Nomads captured baby Golden Eagles and trained them to hunt. Mongolian traditional dances and dress costumes are elaborate. Some young girls also train in the traditional art of contortionism. Instead of horses some Nomads ride motorcycles; still nomads learn to ride expertly by the age of five. Mongolian nomads may have many children. Mongolia has the youngest population in the world with half of its population under the age of 25. Many young nomads abandon the traditional way of life and move to the city, Ulaanbaatar, where more than half of all Mongolians now live. The traditional ways of the Mongolian nomad will soon disappear. Contents of a Ger 19th century Ger and content; Collection of Gankhuyag Natsag. Arag – wooden basket Savar – wooden shovel fork Chodor – horse hobble Bubil khos – horse halter Kholiin avdar – chest Khotnii buu – pistol in wooden box Buu – Rifle Emeel – saddle Khazaar – bridle Shagay khoo khuyag – ankle bone dice game Bogts – saddle bag Bogtsos tobloom – shank bone games Tanka painting – Yamataka Tanka painting – Tavan Khan Tanka painting – Dalkha Tanka painting – Goviin Lkha Baldn Lkhama with two helpers – bronze statue White Tara – wood framed Sakhli Khiimori – wood block print Takhil shilen – two offering cups Small silver pray candle holder Gaval Damara – Buddhist music instrument Takhliin jijig shiree- small offering table Tsan/gants – Buddhist cymbals Avdar – two chests Unjilaga – cord or curtains Tulga – fire pit Togoo – caldron Galiin khaich – fireplace tongs Or – bed Zeeriin arisan devsreg – Antelope skin rug Khivis – carpet Khos ertnii gutal – antique boots Uur – mortar tea and herb grinder Nuduur – pestle mixer Gal togoonii iregneg – kitchen cabinet Khalbaga shanaga – ladle and dipper Guulin tom dombo – copper tea pitcher Esgii bogts – two felt bags Tsar – two trays Jijig modon tsagsh – small wooden bowl Chuluun guriliin teerem – mill stone.