Naadam (Mongolian : Наадам, classical Mongolian: ᠨᠠᠭᠠᠳᠤᠮNaɣadum, [ˈnaːdəm] , literally "games") is a traditional festival in Mongolia. The festival is also locally termed "eriin gurvan naadam" (эрийн гурван наадам) "the three games of men". The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery, and are held throughout the country during midsummer. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling.
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and both the most widely-spoken and best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In Mongolia, the Khalkha dialect, written in Cyrillic, is predominant, while in Inner Mongolia, the language is dialectally more diverse and is written in the traditional Mongolian script. In the discussion of grammar to follow, the variety of Mongolian treated is Standard Khalkha Mongolian, but much of what is to be said is also valid for vernacular (spoken) Khalkha and for other Mongolian dialects, especially Chakhar.
Mongolian wrestling, known as Bökh, is the folk wrestling style of Mongols in Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and other regions where touching the ground with anything other than a foot loses the match. Bökh means "durability". Wrestling is the most important of the Mongolian culture's historic "Three Manly Skills", that also include horsemanship and archery. Genghis Khan considered wrestling to be an important way to keep his army in good physical shape and combat ready. The court of Qing Dynasty (1646–1911) held regular wrestling events, mainly between ethnic Manchu and Mongol wrestlers. There are several different versions, Mongolian, Buryatian, Oirat and Inner Mongolian.
Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys over a set distance for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, as its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has been unchanged since at least classical antiquity.
In 2010, Naadam was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.
UNESCO established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance. This list is published by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the members of which are elected by State Parties meeting in a General Assembly. Through a compendium of the different oral and intangible treasures of humankind worldwide, the programme aims to draw attention to the importance of safeguarding intangible heritage, which UNESCO has identified as an essential component and as a repository of cultural diversity and of creative expression.
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Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. It has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions, including weddings or spiritual gatherings. It later served as a way to train soldiers for battle, and was also connected to Mongols' nomadic lifestyle. Mongolians practice their unwritten holiday rules that include a long song to start the holiday, then a Biyelgee dance. Traditional cuisine, or Khuushuur, is served around the Sports Stadium along with a special drink made of horse milk (airag). The three games of wrestling, horse racing, and archery are recorded in the 13th-century book The Secret History of the Mongols . During the Qing dynasty's rule, Naadam became a festival officially held by sums. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 Revolution, when Mongolia declared independence from China and coincides with Mongolian State Flag Day. Naadam also celebrates the achievements of the new state.It was celebrated as a Buddhist/shaman holiday until secularization in the 1930s under the Communist influence of the Soviet Union.
The Secret History of the Mongols is the oldest surviving literary work in the Mongolian language. It was written for the Mongol royal family some time after the 1227 death of Genghis Khan. The author is anonymous and probably originally wrote in the Mongolian script, but the surviving texts all derive from transcriptions or translations into Chinese characters that date from the end of the 14th century and were compiled by the Ming dynasty under the title The Secret History of the Yuan Dynasty. Also known as Tobchiyan in the History of Yuan.
Mongolia under Qing rule was the rule of the Qing dynasty of China over the Mongolian steppe, including the Outer Mongolian 4 aimags and Inner Mongolian 6 leagues from the 17th century to the end of the dynasty. "Mongolia" here is understood in the broader historical sense. The last Mongol Khagan Ligden saw much of his power weakened in his quarrels with the Mongol tribes and was defeated by the Manchus, he died soon afterwards. His son Ejei Khan gave Hong Taiji the imperial authority, ending the rule of Northern Yuan dynasty then centered in Inner Mongolia by 1635. However, the Khalkha Mongols in Outer Mongolia continued to rule until they were overrun by the Dzungars in 1690, and they submitted to the Qing dynasty in 1691.
Sum, sumu, sumon, and somon are a type of administrative district used in China, Mongolia, and Russia.
The biggest festival (National Naadam) is held in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, during the National Holiday from July 11 to 13, in the National Sports Stadium. It begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin. The competitions are mainly horseback riding. Naadam is also celebrated in different regions of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia in July and August. In the Tuva Republic, Naadam is on 15 August.
Ulaanbaatar, formerly anglicised as Ulan Bator, is the capital and largest city of Mongolia. The city is not part of any aimag (province), and its population as of 2014 was over 1.3 million, almost half of the country's total population. Located in north central Mongolia, the municipality lies at an elevation of about 1,300 meters (4,300 ft) in a valley on the Tuul River. It is the country's cultural, industrial and financial heart, the centre of Mongolia's road network and connected by rail to both the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia and the Chinese railway system.
National Sports Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. It is used mostly for football matches and has a capacity 12,500. The Naadam festival, which celebrates Mongolian independence, is held there every July. The land owned by the stadium company is about 27 hectares, of which the stadium takes about 8 hectares of land. The National Sport Stadium in Mongolia hosted the 2016 World University Archery Championship.
Inner Mongolia or Nei Mongol, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region or Nei Mongol Autonomous Region (NMAR), is one of the autonomous regions of the People's Republic of China, located in the north of the country. Its border includes most of the length of China's border with Mongolia. The rest of the Sino–Mongolian border coincides with part of the international border of the Xinjiang autonomous region and the entirety of the international border of Gansu province and a small section of China's border with Russia. Its capital is Hohhot; other major cities include Baotou, Chifeng, and Ordos.
The three sports are called "Danshig" games. They became the great celebration of the new nation, where the nobility got together to dedicate to the Bogd Khan (Jabzundamba Khutugtu), the new head of state.
The Bogd Khan became Bogd Gegeen Ezen Khaan of Bogd Khaganate in 1911, when Khüree declared independence from Qing dynasty of China after the Xinhai Revolution. He was born in Tibet. As the 8th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, he was the third most important person in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, below only the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, and therefore also known as the "Bogdo Lama". He was the spiritual leader of Outer Mongolia's Tibetan Buddhism. His wife Tsendiin Dondogdulam, the Ekh Dagina, was believed to be a manifestation of White Tara.
Genghis Khan's nine horse tails, representing the nine tribes of the Mongols, are still ceremonially transported from Sukhbaatar Square to the Stadium to open the Naadam festivities. At the opening and closing ceremonies, there are impressive parades of mounted cavalry, athletes and monks.
Genghis Khan was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia. After founding the Empire and being proclaimed Genghis Khan, he launched the Mongol invasions that conquered most of Eurasia. Campaigns initiated in his lifetime include those against the Qara Khitai, Caucasus, and Khwarazmian, Western Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by large-scale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in the Khwarazmian and Western Xia controlled lands. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.
Another popular Naadam activity is the playing of games using shagai, sheep anklebones that serve as game pieces and tokens of both divination and friendship. In the larger Naadam festivals, tournaments may take place in a separate venue.
A total of 512 or 1024 wrestlers meet in a single-elimination tournament that lasts nine or ten rounds. Mongolian traditional wrestling is an untimed competition in which wrestlers lose if they touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet or hands. When picking pairs, the wrestler with the greatest fame has the privilege to choose his opponent. Wrestlers wear two-piece costumes consisting of a tight shoulder vest (zodog) and shorts (shuudag). Only men are allowed to participate.
Each wrestler has an "encourager" called a zasuul. The zasuul sings a song of praise for the winning wrestler after rounds 3, 5, and 7. Winners of the 7th or 8th stage (depending on whether the competition features 512 or 1024 wrestlers) earn the title of zaan, "elephant". The winner of the 9th or 10th stage is called arslan, "lion".In the final competition, all the "zasuuls" drop in the wake of each wrestler as they take steps toward each other. Two-time arslans are called the titans / giants, or avraga.
Unlike Western horse racing, which consists of short sprints generally not much longer than 2 km, Mongolian horse racing as featured in Naadam is a cross-country event, with races 15–30 km long. The length of each race is determined by age class. For example, two-year-old horses race for ten miles and seven-year-olds for seventeen miles. Up to 1000 horses from any part of Mongolia can be chosen to participate. Race horses are fed a special diet.
Children from 5 to 13 are chosen as jockeys and train in the months preceding the races. While jockeys are an important component, the main purpose of the races is to test the skill of the horses.
Before the races begin, the audience sings traditional songs and the jockeys sing a song called Gingo. Prizes are awarded to horses and jockeys. The top five horses in each class earn the title of airgiyn tav and the top three are given gold, silver, and bronze medals. The winning jockey is praised with the title of tumny ekh or leader of ten thousand. The horse that finishes last in the Daaga race (two-year-old horses race) is called bayan khodood (meaning "full stomach"). A song is sung to the Bayan khodood wishing him luck to be next year's winner.More about horse riding in Mongolia
In this competition both men and women may participate. It is played by teams of ten. Each archer is given four arrows; the team must hit 33 "surs". Men shoot their arrows from 75 meters away while women shoot theirs from 65 meters away. Traditionally the archers wear their national clothing (Deel) during the competition. All the archers wear leather bracers up to the elbow on their outstretched arm, so that the deel’s cuff does not interfere with shooting.
Mongolian archery is unique for having dozens of surs as targets. Each sur is a small woven or wooden cylinder. They are placed on top of each other forming a wall three-high, which is approximately 8 inches high by 5 feet wide. Knocking a sur out of the wall with an arrow counts as a hit, though knocking a sur out of the centre will bring a competitor more points. When the archer hits the target, the judge says uuhai which means "hooray". After each hit, an official repairs the damaged wall and makes it ready for the next attempt. The winners of the contest are granted the titles of "national marksman" and "national markswoman".
Horse racing is the second largest spectator sport in Great Britain, and one of the longest established, with a history dating back many centuries. It generates over £3.7 billion for the British economy, and the major horse racing events such as Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival are important dates in the British and international sporting and society calendar.
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Kurultai, was a political and military council of ancient Mongol and some Turkic chiefs and khans. The root of the word is khur- "gather", from which is formed khural meaning "meeting" or "assembly" in Turkic and Mongolian languages. Khuraldai, khuruldai, or khuraldaan means "gathering", or more literally, "intergatheration". This root is the same as in the Mongolian word хуримkhurim, which means "feast" and originally referred to large festive gatherings on the steppe but is used mainly in the sense of "wedding" in modern times.
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The Mongol horse is the native horse breed of Mongolia. The breed is purported to be largely unchanged since the time of Genghis Khan. Nomads living in the traditional Mongol fashion still hold more than 3 million animals, which outnumber the country's human population. Despite their small size, they are horses, not ponies. In Mongolia, the horses live outdoors all year, dealing with temperatures from 30 °C (86 °F) in summer down to −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter, and they graze and search for food on their own. The mare's milk is processed into the national beverage airag. Some animals are slaughtered for meat. Other than that, they serve as riding and transport animals; they are used both for the daily work of the nomads and in horse racing.
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A horse archer is a cavalryman armed with a bow, able to shoot while riding from horseback. Archery has occasionally been used from the backs of other riding animals. In large open areas, it was a highly successful technique for hunting, for protecting the herds, and for war. It was a defining characteristic of the Eurasian nomads during antiquity and the medieval period, as well as the Iranian peoples, and Indians in antiquity, and by the Hungarians, Mongols and the Turkic peoples during the Middle Ages. By the expansion of these peoples, the practice also spread to Eastern Europe, Mesopotamia, and East Asia. In East Asia, horse archery came to be particularly honored in the samurai tradition of Japan, where horse archery is called Yabusame.
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Horses play a large role in the daily and national life of the Mongols; it is traditionally said that "A Mongol without a horse is like a bird without the wings." Elizabeth Kendall, who travelled through Mongolia in 1911, observed, "To appreciate the Mongol you must see him on horseback,—and indeed you rarely see him otherwise, for he does not put foot to ground if he can help it. The Mongol without his pony is only half a Mongol, but with his pony he is as good as two men. It is a fine sight to see him tearing over the plain, loose bridle, easy seat, much like the Western cowboy, but with less sprawl.".
Lajos Kassai, is a Hungarian bowyer, archer and equestrian. He is primarily known for his work reviving the traditional art of horse archery, including adapting it into a modern sport. For his work he received the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.
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