Photos of the Week: Erka Urtnast
Only 10% of the Mongolian population are herders. However, their culture dominates perceptions of the country. In this photo series, taken 21-24 June 2008, Dr. Erdenetuya Urtnast offers a glimpse of the landscape and customs of Mongolia outside of the cities.
Young generation of herders. Khövsgöl aimag, Tünel soum (27, June, 2008)
Traditionally women are not allowed to enter the most sacred and venerated oboos.
The noble couple are organising an oboo worship themselves. Near Khövsgöl province center (27 June, 2008)
Shoulder blade divination. Mr. Altansukh, a herder of Arbulag soum, Khövsgöl aimag says that it’s possible to predict someone’s destiny by burning the shoulder blade of a sheep and reading lines and dots on it.
Sacred oboo called Tsagaan chuluut (White stone). Near Arbulag soum of Khövsgöl aimag. The oboo has been worshipped since the sixteenth century by Khotgoids, an ethnic group in Mongolia.
Mongol wrestling. After the oboo worship ceremony, local people gather on green grass and organize wrestling.
No comment. However, it was sad to see those stubs and the dried land. Near Mörön soum, Khövsgöl aimag.
Namsraijav udgan. A well-known Khotgoid shaman who conducts the oboo worship ceremonies of Tsagaan chuluut, cleans the surrounding area of the oboo, and helps local people. Khövsgöl aimag Arbulag soum.
Local men in front of the oboo. Many Mongols still wear traditional Mongol costume – a requirement for attending an oboo worship ceremony and any other national festival.
Khuvsgul. During an oboo worship ceremony.
Inside of the sacred oboo. Local people offer food, drink, candies, banknotes, meat etc. to the oboo.
In rural areas of Mongolia, local people often use Russian vans as vehicles since those vehicles are suitable for dirt roads.
Mongolian men on horses.
Expensive jeeps for the parliamentary election campaign of 2008. Khövsgöl province.
Buddhism is not an official or a state religion in Mongolia. However, Buddhist lamas (monks) play a central role in venerating sacred oboos.
Boards for parliamentary election campaign of 2008. Khövsgöl province center.
After the oboo veneration, local people organize horse races (25 June 2008). Bürentogtokh soum, Khövsgöl aimag.
A female shaman (udgan), Mrs Namsraijav, explains that the tree is a vehicle of guardian spirit of the Tsagaan chuluut oboo.
A tree near Khövsgöl aimag, Mörön soum (24 June, 2008). Usually the Mongols don’t touch and break a single branch of a tree, since they believe that such trees sustain the land.
A man guards and protects the mountain and the surrounding area. He said that he regrets that people cut trees to make profits, thereby polluting the environment.
A little boy riding a horse. In the Mongolian countryside, boys learn to ride horses when they are 4-5 years old.
A deer stone dating back to the Bronze age. Deer stones are found not only in the territory of Mongolia but also in many areas of Central Asia.