Nomadic Culture

Constantly moving civilization

Nomadism has been the way of life for Mongolians since the beginning. Families move to other places in each seasons to sustain. Mongolian nomads depend on their livestock including sheeps, goats, horses, cows and camels. And they live in a ger (yurt), a large portable tent-like hut made of felt and ornate wooden slats.

Since the Mongolian nomads constantly move to other places and live in a vast steppes far from each other, horses are the main transportation solution. In ancient times Mongolian cavalry used to strike fear into their enemies’ hearts, because it was so fast and so efficient. On the other hand, horseback has been essential for guarding the herds. And horses are the source of airag (fermented mare milk), a popular mongolian drink. 

Sheeps and cows are the main source of meat, which basically the 70 percent of the food pyramid of Mongolian nomads. And cows and goats are the main source of milk, which is used for dairy products that makes the other 30 percent of the food pyramid. Also, Mongolia is famous for its goat cashmere and that resulted in the increasing number of goats over the years. Meanwhile camels are region specific and nomads who live in the gobi desert usually herd them.

The number of people who choose nomadic way of life has been decreasing since early 1900s. Nowadays only around 20 percent of Mongolians live as a nomad while over 60 percent of the population crowds Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. And the other 20 percent live in the center of their respective province or soum. Although the city life continues to attract large number of people away from their horseback, most of the Mongolians understand that their ancestors had a nomadic lifestyle for a reason and know this is a culture they can not just abandon.


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