Education About Asia

Performing Arts of Mongolia: Treasure of a Nomadic Culture

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The vast steppe of northern China has nurtured a brilliant and unsophisticated grassland culture, including the arts of the nomadic “horseback people” who reside on the steppe. A new form of arts came into being in order to adapt itself to the region’s natural environment and ecological system. Mongolian herdsmen have lived on the grasslands of northern China for many generations (Figure 3). They left a cultural legacy of romantic simplicity that is still revered today. However, real nomadic life in the grassland means living with the extremes of heat and cold, the solitude of the Gobi Desert, the annoyances of mosquitoes and other insects, and often a humdrum daily routine. These elements of life also nourished the magnificence of Mongolian long song, sentimental and melodious horse-head fiddle music, and valiant and graceful Mongolian dance. This essay is a short introduction to these seminal Mongolian traditional performing arts (Figures 1 and 2).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks go to JUEFEI  WANG of the Freeman Foundation for his role in procuring this article and his invaluable help in assisting with its development. Dr. Wang suggested the topic, served as a liaison between the editorial office and IMUAC faculty, and assisted in editing the manuscript.