Spend time in Mongolia and you will notice that a majority of families own a dog. Very rarely are they fashionable, small, pedigree dogs as traditionally the dogs role was to alert it’s owners to the arrival of strangers arriving from the wide-open steppe, herding the livestock when families moved to new pasture and guarding against the threat of wolves. Did you know that in Mongolia, dogs traditionally are the only animal given their own name? It is a sign of honour and part of a belief that dogs are the last stage before humans in the reincarnation process. When a dog dies, the owner whispers in the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. They are buried high in the hills so that people do not walk on their remains. Their tail is cut off and put beneath the head, and a piece of meat or fat is cut off and placed in the dog’s mouth to sustain its soul for its journey; before the dog is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high open steppe for as long as it would like.
Mongolian Dogs – Life On The Steppe
May 16, 2020
Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj - Mongolian Poet

Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj

If you’re not Mongolian, then you (probably) will not have heard of Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj. Born in 1906, Natsagdorj was a Mongolian poet and writer. He was also the founder of the Mongolian Writer’s Union and is considered one of the founding fathers of modern Mongolian  – one of the pioneers of modern Mongol literature. He is the author of one of my favourite Mongolian poems – ‘Minii Nutag – My Home’ which celebrates the natural beauty of Mongolia. The poem is in full below for those interested.

Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj - Mongolian poet

Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj by Mongolian artist Soyolmaa Tsegmid. Soyolmaa Tsegmid usually draws on silk or ricepaper and uses freehand brushwork techniques – https://www.instagram.com/ooloo0524/. Natsagdorj died an early death in 1937 shortly after being released from a short period of imprisonment during Mongolia’s Political Purges.

For 70 years (1924-1990), Mongolia was a communist state with close alignment with the Soviet Union.  The early writings of Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj during this communist period are considered an example of Mongolian “socialist realism.”

‘During the communist period (1924-1990) , of course, writers were strongly discouraged from addressing religious or spiritual topics.  But Mongolians had at their disposal their shamanic tradition of animism, and so writers created a literature which celebrated the land, and which honored the ancestors in the form of the grasses and the hills and the trees.’ (Simon Wickham-Smith – British translator and academic)

 

Mongolia’s literature – including the poems and writing of  Dashdorjiin Natsagdorj – is framed by the cycle of the seasons, by landscape and weather. It is also influenced by Mongolia’s rich history, its traditional nomadic culture and is also shaped by the worshipping of Buddhism and Shamanism.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mongolia, take a look at our webpage on Mongolia including a list of films and books. If you would like to read the poem ‘Minii Nutag – My Home’ – here it is …

High stately mountains Khentei, Khangai and Soyon,
Forests and thick-wooded ridges-the beauty of the North,
The Great Gobi desert-the spaces of Menen, Sharga and Nomin,
And the oceans of sand deserts that dominate the South;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

The crystal rivers of sacred Kherlen, Onon and Tuul,
Brooks, streams and springs that bring health to all my people,
The blue lakes of Khovsgol, Uvs and Buir-deep and wide,
Rivers and lakes where people and cattle quench their thirst;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

The most beautiful rivers of Orkhon, Selenge and Khukhui,
Mountains and passes-the source of metals and stone,
Ancient structures and ruins of towns and fortresses,
Roads and highways running to distant countries;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

The high crowns of snow-capped mountains shining from star,
The endless virgin landscape under the clear blue sky,
The noble summits seen standing in the distance,
And the unbounded fields where one’s soul at last finds peace;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

The vast land of Khalkha among the deserts and highlands,
Land where we rode along and across from the green days of our youth,
Towering mountain chains where deer and wolf are hunted,
And the finest valleys where splendid horses run;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

The land of pure grasses waving in the breeze,
The land of open steppes full of fantastic mirages,
Firm rocks and out-of-reach places where Good men used to meet,
And the ancient ovoos-the cairns to gods and ancestors;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

Land of pasture heavy with grass thin and pure,
Country where all may ride and drive at will,
Country where people live freely in all seasons of the year,
And the land of fertile soil, the five grains that grow,
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

The finest mountains-the cradles where our ancestors lie,
Where we grew up and flourished,
The land where five kinds of animals wander in the plains,
And the land saturated with the soul generations of Mongols;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

Land where all is covered with snow and ice in winter,
And the grasses twinkle like glass and crystal,
Land where all is a carpet of flowers in summer,
And full of songbirds from the distant lands of the South;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

The rich land between the Altai and Khingan mountains,
The land where my father and mother lived and blessed for us in their passing,
The land peacefully growing under the golden Sun,
And sparkling forever under the silver Moon;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

Land of my ancestors from the time of the Hun and Sung,
Glorious land where might of the Blue Mongols was felt,
Land that has fitted us since the morning of time,
And the land overspread by Red Banner of New Mongolia;
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

Homeland, known from birth and growing up, is land that we dearly love,
With every invader we turned back at the very gates,
Let us increase the might of our new-born people,
And on our merits build a newer world,
This, this is my native land,
The lovely country – My Mongolia.

Jessica Brooks
Jessica Brooks
I’m Jess Brooks. I am the founder of Eternal Landscapes Mongolia - a registered Mongolian business and social travel enterprise that focuses on providing travellers with a real 21st Century insight into Mongolia. I have been based in Mongolia since 2006 and together with my beloved Mongolian team, we focus on tourism that makes a positive difference. I'm also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society - awarded for my work in Mongolia and a published guidebook author - having worked together with World Adventure Guides to produce a digital interactive guide to Mongolia. http://www.jessbrooks.co.uk/
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