Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mongolian Wrestling

Damdin Danigai – 1921 Mongolian National Naadam Champion.
Number 1 out of 96 contenders.

G. Bat-Ochir – 1921 Mongolian National Naadam Runner-Up

Vandan Titan – 1922 and 1923 Mongolian National Naadam Wrestling Champion
Number 1 out of 704 contenders.
Wrestled 16 times in Mongolian National Naadam and 50 times won provincial Naadams.

Bosaw Shagdir - 1924 Mongolian National Naadam Wrestling Champion
Number 1 out of 674 contenders.

Jamiyan - 1926 Mongolian National Naadam Wrestling Champion
Number 1 out of 960 contenders
Main technique was charging leg grab and throw.

Jamiyan - 1927 Mongolian National Naadam Wrestling Champion
Number 1 out of 960 contenders

Ayoor - 1929 Mongolian National Naadam Wrestling Champion
Number 1 out of 1000 contenders

B. Banzar - 1929 Mongolian National Naadam Wrestling Champion
Number 1 out of 1000 contenders

Lhagva - 1931 Mongolian National Naadam Champion - Number 1 out of 1000 contenders

Wrestler At Naadam, Hovsgol Aimag, July 1996
by Robert McCracken Peck

Mongolian Wrestlers at the Festival of Mongolia in Central Park,
New York City, 2000

Mongolian wrestlers and archers are generally regarded by Mongolians as holding a very important cultural status in traditional Mongolian society. The wrestlers especially are thought of as embodying ancient values of nobility, strength and chivalrous sportsmanship. The rituals of Mongolian wrestling competition are believed to have been passed down in a form virtually unchanged for hundreds of years.

Mongolian wrestling is one of the three main sports of the Mongolian 'Naadam' celebration, the other two are archery and horse racing. Naadam comes from the word "Naadakh' which means to have fun. The Naadam events take place outdoors over three days between July 11th thru 13th every year. Naadam is the grand annual celebration of Mongolian traditional sports and culture during which most offices are closed since the nation as a whole is on holiday. Usually 512 wrestlers enter the Naadam competition and final eliminations are decided after nine rounds. The wrestlers with the most victories and highest title decides who his opponents will be after the third round of eliminations.

The traditional Mongolian wrestling costume consists of a red waistcoat open in the front called a 'Zodog', blue wrestling trunks called 'Shuudag' and high boots called 'Gutuls'. One of the most unique aspects of Mongolian wrestling is there are no separate weight classes and there are no time limits for the wrestling bouts. During the wrestling match if either wrestler's knee or elbow touches the ground then he loses the match.

Each wrestler has a "Zazul" who is both his coach and herald. At the beginning of the third, fifth and seventh rounds he sings the praises of his wrestler's heroic deeds. During lulls in the match the Zazul slaps the wrestler on the back and exhorts them to struggle on. Before and after the match, each wrestler does the traditional "Eagle Dance" (Devekh) which symbolizes power, bravery, grace and invincibility and is based on the flight of the mythical Garuda bird. These ancient Mongolian wrestling rituals are very important vestigial elements of Mongolian culture. The pre-wrestling rituals combine mystical and heroic imagery as well as mythical symbolism and meaning which are primary parts of Mongolia's rich history and culture.

The wrestlers slap their thighs to show they are ready to begin the match. Mongolian wrestlers have a vast range of techniques called 'Mekhs' which they utilize based on their assesment of each opponents strengths or weaknesses. A highly skilled Mongolian wrestler can know hundreds of Mekhs. If a wrestler loses the match, he then symbolically passes under the arm of the winner as a sign of respect.

The power and ability of Mongolian wrestlers is world renowned and currently making its powerful impact felt on the world of Japanese Sumo. A handful of Mongolian wrestlers have mastered Japanese Sumo techniques and now dominate the hierarchy of Japanese Sumo. The Mongolian Sumo wrestlers have had great success in Japanese Sumo by adapting traditional Mongolian wrestling methods, training and inherent strengths for the suddenly changed world of Japanese Sumo.

The Mongolian wrestling ranking hierarchy starts with the title of Falcon (Nachin), then Elephant (Zaan), then Lion (Arslan), and then the highest rank which is Titan (Avarga).

Mongolian Wrestling Terminology

Bukh - the word for Mongolian wrestling or wrestler.

Mekh - A technique or ruse to catch opponents off guard.

Tahina Uguh - To go under the winner's arm after a loss.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mongolia most famous painting 'One Day in Mongolia' by B. Sharav

'One Day in Mongolia' by B. Sharav

The most famous Mongolian painting is 'One Day in Mongolia' by the great painter, B. Sharav who lived from 1869 to 1939. This masterpiece of Mongolian art depicts a grand overview of the timeless traditions of the day-to-day life of Mongolian people.

Close scrutiny of sections of this grand painting illuminates many different aspects of Mongolian nomadic life including the various stages of felt making, erecting a Ger, and religous rituals. This painting by B. Sharav shows Mongolian pastoral nomadic life as a robust colorful existance with great liveliness shown through its many fine details.