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Chinese Mongolian Nationality

The Mongolian Nationality, who are the main body of the population of Inner Mongolia, have their own traditional social customs and etiquette which are especially imbued with the characteristics of honesty, courtesy and hospitality. When they meet a guest, they warmly shake hands with him and say "Tasain bainu" (which means "How do you do" in Mongolian). When the guest gets into the yurt, the housewife presents him a bowl of milk tea with both her hands and then puts all kinds of dairy food on the table in front of the guest. When the guest leaves, all the family get out of the yurt to say to him. "Good-bye and wish you a good trip."

The Mongolian Yurt

The Mongolian Yurt, called " a vaulted tent" or "felt tent" in the ancient times, is a domed peaked tent. The frame of the yurt is a supporting ring, formed by some wooden poles. The wooden poles are fastened with leather thongs and studs to form a fence-like structure (which are called "Hana" in Mongolian). The frame of the yurt is covered with thick felt fastened from outside the yurt with ropes. Every yurt has an opening on the top, which provides both light and ventilation, and a wooden door facing south or southeast.

Mongolian Ox Cart

The ox cart, also called the "Lele" cart, is a traditional traffic vehicle invented and used by the Mongolian people. It used to be made of birth wood or elm wood. The cart itself weighs about 50 kilograms. It is capable of carrying a few hundred or a thousand kilograms of goods.

The Festivals

The major traditional festivals among the Mongolian people are the Off Year, which is on the 23rd day of the last month according to the lunar calendar, and the On Year, which is the first day of the first month of the new year also according to the lunar calendar.

The Mongolian people make use of the Off Year festival to worship the "Kitchen God" as well as to bid farewell to the "Kitchen God". They particularly worship the "the Fire God", believing that the "Fire God" could bring happiness and wealth to man. On the off Year Day all the members of the family are sure to come together to have a reunion dinner. When it is time to bid farewell to the Kitchen God, they throw a little food of all kinds into the fire and pray the god for blessings.

The Mongolian people make the On Year Festival (which is called the Spring Festival by the Han people) a chance to have their family reunited. Before the festival, they are busy getting everything ready, including beef, mutton, new clothes and delicious food of all kinds. On the eve of the festival, all the family sit at the dining table with cooked meat, dairy products and good wine, talking and laughing while they are eating and drinking. A large piece of paper, with their ancestor's name on it, is often placed in the centre of the dinner table, which indicates that the spirit of their ancestor would come back to celebrate the festival with them. On the first five days of the first month of the lunar calendar, they go to the friends and relatives' yurts, paying New Year calls and give Hada and wine as presents. In doing so, they often take back a small packet of tea with them, hoping that they would bring good luck home from outside.

Dress and Personal Adornment

Chinese Mongolian Nationality

In order to adapt themselves to the natural conditions, the Mongolian people have developed their unique national costume which consists of the loose sleeved tunic, the long sash, Mongolian boots and head ornaments (i.e. head-dress). The Mongolian women often wear head-dress while they visit their friends and relatives. The head-dress is made of agate, pearls, coral, jadeite, gem, gold and silver, with which many different beautiful patterns are formed. The Ordos women's head-dress is the most typical of all in Inner Mongolia. Made of valueable materials, it si exquisite and pleasing in form, weighing about 20 kilograms.

It is customary for the Mongolian women to wrap their heads in scarlet or green silk. The Mongolian men wear hats with heavy ear-flags in winter. The robes worn by Mongolian people have high collars and long loose sleeves, reach below the knees and button down at the right breast. The sash is often worn round the waist to match the robe. The materials of the robes can be silk, satin or cotton cloth. They are suitable for riding horses.

Marriage Customs

Two kinds of marriage customs used to be in fashion among the Mongolian people; snatching a maiden and making her a bride; making a proposal of marriage to the girl and her parents by offering betrothal gifts. The former custom had died out by the 13 th century while the latter custom has been handed down. In the pastoral area cattle, sheep or other live-stock are often sent to the bride's family as betrothal gifts. The number of gifts must be nine or can be divided by nine. This is because cardinal numbers are regarded as auspicious by the Mongolian people. The wedding often lasts two or three days.