Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Today is the start of the Naadam festival in Mongolia. It brings us to think about history, and the changing of the entire Old World by Genghis Khan. A celebration of a bloodthirsty warrior/father of a country, and near deific constant leader of the Mongolian peoples. In 2000, I took a trip to Mongolia during Naadam, and it was an amazing celebration of horsback races, wrestling, archery (from horseback), and traditional singing. So many of these practices migrated with the Mongols to where they conqured, including Japan. Although I'm not a historian (meaning that I have no proof of this), I strongly believe that Japan and Mongolia are closely related, both as a people, as well as specifics of culture. Japan was invaded twice by Mongolia, and it is difficult to imagine that nothing had "rubbed off" on Japan from those invasions. Two that come to mind are the saddle and horseback archery. The Japanese saddle and the Mongol saddle were very similar. In addition, the creation of a horseback bow came about after the Mongol invasion. Luckily, the penchent for goat and sheep meat didn't stick with Japanese culture. If you have never had pressure-cooked goat or sheep, let me tell you that it has a lot of fat, and even after being cooked at super high temperatures, it is still very very tough. Additionally, boiled blood sausage is not a big point of interest in Japan (nor is butter tea and yak's milk). We must be thankful for the small blessings in life I suppose.
Anyway, happy Naadam!