By Mark

Blogs seem to go in spurts- nothing for a while and then several in one week… this is going to be one of those weeks.  Last week Cinda’s Mongolian language teacher told us there was going to be a wrestling competition for local pre-school children.  For the opening ceremony her daughter would be dressed in a special Mongolian outfit that she and her mother had made.  So we all went on a field trip.  The outfits worn by the students represented many of the different people groups and regions of Mongolia. 

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above: Our language teacher’s daughter (this was my favorite shot- not done by skill but pure luck, we will see if I can ever reproduce it)

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Basketball is popular here- a sign from inside the gym

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This little guy loved twirling around the long sleeves on his dell.

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When wrestlers win a match the loser must pass under the arm of the victor and the rope of his “shirt” is untied.  Then the judge places the “general” hat on the victor and he lifts his arms like an eagle in flight- that eagle dance is what these boys are doing.

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This is our teacher’s daughter.  Our teacher was crouching down beside us so that her daughter wouldn’t see her and get upset (Nomin is only two, one of the youngest children in the show).

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Marching with their teacher

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These two are dressed in the traditional dells of the reindeer people who live near lake Khovsgol. Note the fur and hoods- they strike me as looking very similar to the Inuit. (sorry for the blurry photo)

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These outfits are made in the Kazakh tradition.  There is a Kazakh minority in Mongolia, primarily in the western part of Mongolia, along the border with Kazakhstan.  However, there are also small communities of Kazakh throughout Mongolia. 

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Two boys wrestling while wearing the traditional outfit.  The rules are similar to Greco-Roman.  The loser is whoever touches the ground first with a knee or, in some cases, a hand.  There are no weight classes- and don’t assume that the big guys always win.  The smaller boy above won several times against bigger boys before he became too tired and lost a match.  As soon as someone wins a match they turn right around and wrestle again.  The judge is standing ready to place the hat on the winner.  You can clearly see the rope around the torso that is untied when one loses.

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above: One of the judges, my guess is a regional champion.  Note that around his waist he is not wearing a traditional “buse” or belt, but rather his wrestling outfit, which is often done by wrestlers (or so I was told by our teacher).

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This kid was hilarious.  His mom was next to us and wanted a picture taken of her son. She gave our teacher her number so she could get a picture.  He would run out on the wrestling area, do the eagle dance and run back, laughing the whole way. 

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Don’t forget- it’s cold here. 

The gym reminded Cinda and I of something out of the movie “Hoosiers” and was not very warm inside.  In fact, the wrestlers were wearing layers over their outfits until their names were called, when mom and dad would suddenly grab them and remove all the top layers, put the boots back on and send them onto the mat.

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