ICH Mongolia: Mongol Tuuli, Mongolian epic

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2017-06-21 12:18 GMT+8

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The Mongolian Tuuli is an oral tradition comprising heroic epic poems that run from hundreds to thousands of lines and combine benedictions, eulogies, spells, idiomatic phrases, fairy tales, myths and folk songs. They are regarded as a living encyclopedia of Mongolian oral traditions and immortalize the heroic history of the Mongolian people. The Mongolian Tuuli was inscribed in 2009 on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Epic singers are distinguished by their prodigious memory and performance skills, combining singing, vocal improvisation and musical composition coupled with theatrical elements. Epic lyrics are performed to musical accompaniment on instruments such as the ''morin khuur'' (horse-head fiddle) and ''tovshuur'' (lute). Epics are performed during many social and public events, including state affairs, weddings, a child’s first haircut, the ''Naadam'' festival (a wrestling, archery and horseracing festival) and the worship of sacred sites. Epics evolved over many centuries, and reflect nomadic lifestyles, social behaviors, religion, mentalities, and imagination. 

The Mongolian Tuuli has the same style, composition, and design as the Ancient Greek epic poem "The Iliad" and "Odyssey". According to research findings of the scientists, Mongolians have more than 200 heroic epic poems. 

Below video is one of the most famous Tuuli of Mongolia, the "Jangar" which tells fame and story about heroes who have different skills and talents. The Jangar is a complex Tuuli which compromises 700-800 rows of poems. 

Performing artists cultivate epic traditions from generation to generation, learning, performing and transmitting techniques within kinship circles, from fathers to sons. Through the epics, Mongolians transmit their historical knowledge and values to younger generations, strengthening awareness of national identity, pride, and unity. Today, the number of epic trainers and learners is decreasing. With the gradual disappearance of the Mongol epic, the system of transmitting historic and cultural knowledge is degrading.

In 2011-2014, the State Great Khural of Mongolia implemented Mongol Tuuli program, aiming to create legal management directed at inheriting future generation and conducting research, to support performing artists to conduct training as well as to promote Mongol Tuuli to the public preventing from extinction. 

Moreover, the Government of Mongolia in cooperation with UNESCO has successfully implemented a project called "Protecting and restoring traditions of Mongolian Tuuli" during 2013-2016. In scope of the project, 12 series of books about Mongol Tuuli was published and the books are now available at public libraries. 

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