THE PATHS I’VE WALKED, PEN IN HAND
The Mongol people adapted the Uigur script to their own language a thousand years ago and, in the thirteenth century, Chinggis Haan made it the official national script. Thus for over a thousand years, our cultural heritage was created through the medium of the Mongol Uigur script. The development of this valuable intellectual legacy ceased, however, during the twentieth century.
Mongolia was, for some three hundred years, under the control of the Manchu, from whom they gained their freedom only at the beginning of the twentieth century. During the 1930s, after the estalishment of the socialist state, pressure from Stalin led to the destruction of the intellectual literary culture and, after 1940, the official script in Mongolia was changed to the Russian Cyrillic. In this way, during the twentieth century, the Mongolian people were split away from their own cultural and historical roots and, following this change in script, those who wrote and spoke about these ancient Mongol roots and traditions, and about the Chinggisid empire and its history were accused of having nationalist sympathies.
I graduated from high school in 1960, and from then until the 1980s, my intellectual development was controlled, the Mongolian people were led by the Mongolian Revolutionary Communist parts and were expected thereby to mimic Russian Soviet communism, and such were the standards by which young intellectuals were to be evaluated.
My father, who was a livestock herder in the countryside, first showed me the Mongol script by writing it in the snow, out in the sheep pastures, with a piece of feathergrass, he told me that I should learn the script. Thus it was that I came to study in the department of Mongol Language and Literature at the Pedagogical University. I had had the chance to go to the University for Literary Studies in Moscow, but chose not to take that path. Because of the political situation at that time, and because of the increased pay it would bring, as I read the classic texts of Marxism-Leninism, and commited some of them to memory, I began also to study the ancient Mongol texts.
This was, significantly, when my poetry began to be published and to catch the attention of the reading public, and moreover when songs began to be released, to which I had written the words. But soon, however, literary critics were saying that my poetry was written according to the ancient Mongol style. Beginning in 1978, I had a job working for the Mongolian radio and TV network. Radio was a powerful way to reach the greatest part of the Mongolian homeland. They began to broadcast a program called “Ancient Literature” and I thought then that ideas of democracy were starting to circulate through the society, that there was growing a powerful influence on popular opinion. The director at that time of one of the most powerful ideological tools, the newspaper Ünen, a writer named L Tüdev, began from time to time to operate a free press. My dear friend, the great poet O Dashbalbar, and I wanted to present “Ancient Literature” in the influential newspaper Utga Zohiol, Urlag and, in 1988, with the assistance of the editor, the famous poet Ts Natsagdorj, we published a hundred thousand copies of Mongol Script the Easy Way, by the scholar of Mongol language B Shagj, who had been executed in 1937. In the archive of the Interior Ministry, we found the folder on B Shagj, and Utga Zohiol, Urlag published it in full, under the title “Shagj –Expert in Mongolian Script.” Together with this, we wrote an article “Looking out on the World through the Window of Books,” in which we said that we would publish for our readers 365 volumes of ancient Mongol literature. Dashbalbar was writing acerbic articles, with titles like “Stepping on Books is Wrong” and “Eternal Works on the Verge of Extinction,” which roundly criticised the destruction of Mongol cultural heritage.
This year, 1989, was the exact moment that a few of us writers – D Maam, J Byambaa, Dashbalbar and myself – spoke powerfully at the Congress of the Writers’ Union, and appealed for the Mongol script to be taught again and to be reintroduced as the national script, as a piece of ancient cultural heritage.
The perestroika which Mikhail Gorbachev had introduced in Russia had catalysed a feeling of freedom in the Mongolian people, and we writers and scholars established a Public Committee for the Mongol Script, and organised its first congress in the Parliament building. The scholar S Dulam and myself organised a petition, following from this congress, to reintroduce the script.
In this way we brought to the people the democratic intention to revive the national heritage and tradition of Mongolian writers and intellectuals. In 1990, democracy came to Mongolia through a bloodless and peaceful transition and it was the writers who were the leaders of the intellectual élite, directing that popular view which had influenced the democratic revolution.
For a few months after the transition to democracy, I considered working at the Mongolian Cultural Foundation, which had just been founded through the initiative of Mongolian scholars and intellectuals. Thus it was that in September of 1990, I was put in charge of completing the library, and had the opportunity to put my plan into action, and revive the cultural and script heritage of Mongolia. That autumn, I worked for about a month in St Petersburg, with the intention of discovering, recording and studying the ancient religious treasures and works of art which had been taken to Russia when the monasteries and temples had been destroyed in Mongolia. In patricular, I worked with the information available in Russia concerning a Buddhist statue, the imposing, 26.5 meter tall image named Migjed Chenrezi Who Opens the Wisdom Eye, which had been constructed by our craftsmen as a symbols of the liberation of Mongolia from Manchu rule in 1911. This, however, was a complex and delicate undertaking, it was not something simply to be handed over. On returning home, I met with President P Ochirbat and Prime Minister D Byambasüren, and we took the decision to establish a Migjed Chenrezi Complex, to to create the wisdom and skillful means catalyse the Mongolian peopple’s awareness and to open their wisdom eyes. Very soon thereafter, the President issued a statement. And so, the statue of Migjed Chenrezi, the most important piece of Mongolia#s ravaged culture, a focal point of Buddhist spiritual culture, was first created according to the traditional design and then, seven years later, raised up in the temple where it had originally stood.
I will never forget that memorable day, 27 October 1996, when Migjed Chenrezi Who Opens the Wisdom Eye, that great treasure of the Mongolian state, its religion and its people, was revealed. For seven years, as President of the Mongolian Cultural Foundation, working constantly to realise the people’s contribution, I had led this great ritual of the Mongolian state, to unveil this massive complex, this symbol of Mongolian democracy and its revival.
Whilst working on the large Migjed Chenrezi project, I announced in 1991 the Script Culture program, a large and beautiful presentation in Mongolia’s proncipal exhibition hall. Working together with the famous scholar Dr D Tserensodnom, we began to prepare for publication a wonderful book by Shagj, previously unpublished, entitled Annotated Dictionary of Mongolian. It was this dictionary which had been the reason for Shagj’s arrest and execution. In passing sentence, the Interior Ministry at the time declared that, “In writing his Annotated Dictionary of Mongolian, Shagj has annotated many of the ancient, feudal words and has sought to minimise the new and progressive terms,” and then they had him shot. Shagj’s dictionary was published in 1993, and in Beijing, since at that time Mongolia did not possess suitable type for the traditional script. Tserensodnom and I completed Shagj’s work with the addition of some three hundred entries. Later, we also published his Dictionary of Mongolian Usage, originally produced in 1929, and for the 110th anniversary of his birth in 1996 we published these two dictionaries together with Mongolian Script the Easy Way. I am provileged to have prepared the cradle for these books, which have in these new times brought back to life this man, with whom I have had no connection, this great scholar, this expert who researched the development of the Mongol script to its highest level. One other thing I should add here is that, while I was reading and editing for publication the biography of the ancient Tibetan yogi Ra Lotsawa, translated in its Mongol script version by the well-known scholar O Sühbaatar, I had a wonderful translation which had remained, unpublished and in manuscript, of Shagj’s translation from the Tibetan. I think that I have some connection with this great man, through the prayers which I have previously made.
The interest in the traditional Mongol script which blazed in my youth has remained. It hardly figured in my thoughts. But it still remained in my heart.
In 1992, the Lower House of the Mongol Parliament introduced the teaching of the traditional script, but in 1995 the later Upper House rejected this and called a halt to the golden steps which put into practise the desire of the people to give it legal status as the national script from 2000. In the main, the majority of parliamentarians don’t know about our national traditions and some of them half-heartedly decide to learn the Mongol script and use it in meetings with foreign powers. The majority decision to reject the official use of the script from 2000 was based upon he claims that it would have been both costly and jargon-heavy.
Thus the attempt to learn and know our traditional Mongol script was neutralised. The demand for the script was reduced. But we didn’t step backwards.
I have travelled to Japan, Korea and China, ready with brushes and ink and calligraphic paper. At home I have set up a table with brush and ink. I have stirred interest in the calligraphic tradition in scholars of the traditional script. With one of our great scholars, Ch Luvsanjav, I organised the Mongolian Cultural universitythe traditional script. With one of our great scholars, Ch Luvsanjav, I set up the School of Mongolian Culture, which has begun to produce advocates of calligraphy, young people with an enthusiasm for Mongol calligraphic culture. Moreover, we have instigated a search for traditional calligraphic culture in the work of our contemporary artists. So these young shoots of Mongol calligraphy are clearly growing.
In 2005, the World Congress of Poets chose Mongolia as the venue for its next conference, to be held the following year. Thus I decided that we would present an exhibition of traditional caligraphy to these poets, who would be coming for the conference from throughout the world. While this exhibition – “Poetry and Calligraphy” – was indeed of great interest to the gathered poets, it quite properly attracted Mongolian visitors, and especially young people, who wanted to know about and study and master their people’s traditions. We joined forces with these young people and have since organised further exhibitions. We have also welcomed our political leadership to these exhibitions.
In winter 2009/10, we organised an independent exhibition, “Mend-Ooyo’s Crystal Temple of Meaning,” at the National Art Gallery of Mongolia. President Ts Elbegdorj honored us with his presence and declared the event open. In his speech, he directly expressed the government’s support of traditional Mongolian book culture. On the evening that he opened my exhibition, the President flew to Denmark for an environmental conference. Two days later, I met the young scholar D Zayabaatar, director of the Mongolian Language and Culture department at the National University, as he left the Parliament building. He said, “Starting today, they are going to start teaching the traditional script to the presidential advisors. The President issued this directive when he left. Your exhibition influenced him in this.” Whatever intention I might have had for the exhibition, it seems to have had a swift influence upon the President’s thoughts.
Mongolian literature has a tangled destiny. The nomadic population is special insofar as it carries its culture, customs, way of life and possessions. Mongolians have for the most part inherited their culture through an oral tradition. This culture is extremely rich. At night, they brought their sheep and cows closer to the fold and began to tell stories. The nomads’ children took to heart the rich treasury of these stories, seeing in themselves the world expressed in such tales. The great Mongol epics, recited over the course of two or three months, developed originally from parallel couplets. On the broad steppe, travelling day and night with their camel carts, Mongol nomads crossed long distances, their lives tuned by poetry. The long song is part of this wonderful Mongolian nomadic tradition.
There is only a relatively small cache of literature in the traditional Mongol script. This is because nomadic culture has become worn away. The ravages of military campaigns, of nomadic movement and of history have been extensive. The oldest examples of the traditional script are the “Chinggisid Stone Inscriptions,” in the Hermitage in St Petersburg. Furthermore, there is a letter in Beijing written by Chinggis Haan to the Chinese Taoist leader Chang Chun. While sedentary civilization honors texts written on paper, nomadic civilization can but recite upon stone. By chance, a verse composed ex tempore by the famous poet and general Tsogt Taiji was in 1624 carved in stone by his attendants, and this has survived to the present day, albeit slightly damaged. This rock-poem remains, carved into stone as though into steel. This stone has been reciting Tsogt’s poem for four hundred years.
Mongolia has had a history of printing in the traditional script since the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The poet Chöji-Ödser translated the biographies and spiritual writings of Indian Buddhist teachers. Court poetry flourished during the reign of Huvilai Haan, who himself was a poet, as were his ministers, his military generals, his ladies-in-waiting, his eunuchs and his concubines and there was also much poetry written at court during the century when the capital was situated in Beijing.
During the eighteenth century, three hundred and thirty-five volumes of Indian historical, literary and religious texts from the previous four centuries were translated and published in Mongolia, and this remains today the only extant collection of these valuable documents.
Between the eighteenth and nineteenth century in particular, scholarly and religious texts were published in increasing numbers. Several thousand volumes have come down to us, written in Mongolian and Tibetan, from perhaps two hundred scholars. It is thought that the libraries of a thousand or so monasteries and temples were burnt during the purges which took place in 1937, as though a vast and bottomless pit had opened up. At this time, we are trying to tidy up the Mongolian literary language. Most importantly, scholars are writing books based on their research into poetry and poetics and translating the best of Indian literature from Sanskrit, of poetry and epics from Chinese, and of Buddhist texts from Tibetan. Such great respect for the textual heritage is shown by the extent to which books are ornamented, in gold and silver and with precious stones.
During Stalin’s purges of the 1930s, scholars were excuted and all this textual and literary culture was savagely frayed in the wind of suppression, a situation which continued through the latter part of the 1950s…At this time, a few intellectuals went to study in Russia or Germany, and these foreign associations allowed them powerfully to move forward in their work. While talented people such as D Natsagdorj, S Buyannemeh and M Yadamsüren were tortured and executed, the likes of Ts Damdinsüren, B Renchin and D Namdag, though incarcerated and subject to physical and mental hardships, nonetheless survived to repair the broken threads of the new Mongolian literary culture. Following this cultural desertification, which dated from the 1920s, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the flesh and blood of traditional Mongolian literature was once more revived and, with the nourishment of western culture, driven forward by writers and poets such as B Yavuuhulan, S Erdene, D Gombojav and M Tsedendorj.
But this period passed and, because the orientation of social realism and the obligation to praise the party, revolution and the Soviet system was under the yoke of the state, these writers dedicated the clarity of their focus to these issues, they held onto it as to a parachute, and it was beneath this parachute that they created works of literary value.
My own generation has travelled along quite another road. For some time, we sought western-style cultural freedom and democracy. We studied the intellectual freedom in western poetry and we entered into our oriental literary and cultural traditions, into the profundity of the Mongol language, and we sought to grasp the philosophy of Mongol buddhism and shamanic religion.
In 1976, we young writers formed a secret movement, which we called Gal (Fire). I was a university student, with a wife and two children, living in a cramped toom with my in-laws, and this factory – this knitting circle, I might say – became the general HQ of this writers’ movement during the 1980s. The Gal movement had a single plan, and that was for everyone to reach their own peak through what excited them. It was a special approach. As we each read and studied and listened to the world’s best poetry, fine art, music and the lives of those who had excelled in their work, we would inform the others, we challenged one another, and so we advanced. In addition to critiquing one another’s work, we would continue unceasingly to analyse the works of those whom we admired. We would gather together at the end of classes and work deep into the night, until the breaking of the dawn. We were especially enamored of the literary “big hitters” of that time – Yavuuhulan, Erdene, Tsedendorj, Sürenjav and Nyamdorj – and we followed their example. At that time, there was a pretty big literary scene and, because we were expected to turn there with our writers’ problems, we kept our movement hidden. The poet Yavuuhulan supported me and helped in the state-sponsored publication of my first book, when I was still a student, and I went stratospheric. Although this first book of my poems, “Birds of Thought,” consisted of poems from twenty-five years of my life, it was published when I was twenty-eight. It went through many complicated stages, such as being checked by the writers’ committee, edited by the literary censorship section, and scennad for ideological errors. Thus I was the first and the youngest of my generation, and of my friends, to have a book published, I seemed like some kind of hero, and my friends in Gal and those writers of the 1980s with whom I associated considered it a triumph. B Sundui, whom we had considered the most talented poet among us, had died at a very young age, and we all pushed each other from pillar to post in the Mongol literary scene.
Among us, there were two very talented poets, namely O Dashbalbar, who had both political and popular stature, and D Nyamsüren, who was famous as being a classic oriental poet. These two have now passed away. I think that these two, by being great poets, garnered for the Gal movement considerable merit.
At twenty-nine, I wrote, “The time goes flying, flying by,/the time is gone, is gone.” It seemed as though my own time accelerated once I wrote this poem. In the twinking of an eye, I saw that the book I had published had produced grandchildren, and stood at the center of Mongol literature, bearing the load of time.
With the democratic revolution of 1990, the Mongol literary scene drew away from its obligatory role as a ideological weapon and became instead an instrument of pleasure in the creation of a free democracy. For the intellectuals, although there was freedom, there was also financial hardship, and the ability to publish books was akin to being trapped in a cangue. The government had no interest in looking at literature. So that the population would not end up starving and cold, they had tightened their belts in response to the difficult years of democratic transition. My writer friends were not different. Why bother with literature? Bookstores shut their doors and became shoeshops. The publishing companies piled the scrapheaps with their equipment. Our one platform, the newspaper Utga Zohiol, Urlag, with one hundred thousand subscribers (quite a large number for Mongolia), now had hardly any readers, they had all defected to the flourishing tabloids. Together with the many volumes of Mongol literature displayed on the counters in bookstores, we began to offload small poetry books as scrap paper to China. Many talented writers and poets became homeless alcoholics, they were known as “moonshiners,” and before we knew it, the years of transition had decimated our ranks.
It seemed as though a great storm had blown through. The shop counters now had only salt and noodles, we got bread with ration cards, everyone got through these years by tightening their belts. My family was no different. So that their children would neither starve nor go cold, there was no other way than to go into business. Some of us tried selling cashmere, some tried setting up small restaurants, some who thought the end was in sight tried to set up a bookstore, but they soon gave up, realising that they weren’t going to succeed. Even as we continued to give up, we never gave up. We went a little into debt, and came under pressure to repay the debt.
Once we had completed the construction of Migjed Chenrezi, I finished writing a potted history of this wonderful and precious object of worship, depicted with an alms bowl, during that time of severe decline in the wealth of the Mongolian people. Chenrezi was given with the intention of awakening the Mongol people, who had become exhausted and dispirited. This conclusion of the plan to construct the Buddha was this book. Those who were involved in the construction project collected what remained from the public donations and offered it to Gandantegchilen Monastery, together with the great Buddha. We worked according to the principle that we would take nothing from the Buddha, not even the riches reflected in his fingernails. With the two billion tögrög of public donations which remained, we bought a six-year-old van, which had seen better days. We had nothing more. We registered the money for the publication of the booklet in the Gandan accounts. The abbot promised that they would publish the booklet once it was written. We prepared the booklet, and I approached the abbot. He said there was no money. That was a blow. We waited a few months. We plodded on, and then a young businessman said that he would sponsor the publication. The young man followed through and had 5000 copies beautifully printed in Singapore, and I rushed off to see the abbot. I said, “The books are published, I’ll have them delivered to Gandan,” and he was overjoyed, although we still had no money. Then the debt vanished. The young man gave us the necessary $40,000. The debters were paid off gradually. I was being hassled for the interest, which amounted to about ten million tögrög. The young man turned around then and demanded the debt from me, I finally knew that I would get the original from the publisher in Singpore. But when I paid the debt and closed the account, I added two thousand books, and sent to the young man a note with my best wishes. During the years of transfer into the free market, Mongolians saw many such things. People were happy, I was satisfied with the sacrifices I myself made. I decided to sell my four room apartment in a new district. At that time, my teacher, that master of Mongolian language S Erdene was in poor health. “Buy my place,” he told me, “it looks as though the Buriats are giving me a log cabin.” Thus I moved my wife, children and grandchildren from a smart area into the ger district. I repayed my debts and, with the money that remained, I built a house, sowed some grass, and started to lead an unencumbered life. I thought that I would spend my time quietly, only writing poems, but one day this peaceful mind was shattered by an invitation from Japan.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Japanese writers' organisation set up a “World Poet's Festival,” to address the issues currently facing poetry. I was wondering how I might take part without money. They sent me a reply, that I should somehow cover the outward travel costs and that, if I might give a presentation the poets, they would grant me the costs of the return trip. So my presentation, “The Mongolian Contribution to Poetry in Human Civilisation,” attracted the attention of the writers from many countries. The following year, I received n invitation to the World Congress of Poets, to be held in Australia, from the American president of the World Academy of Culture Rosemary Wilkinson. And so I went to Sydney, and gave a talk entitled “Poetry’s magic Current.” That also attracted attention. The following year, I was invited to Rome, where I was to be awarded an honorary doctorate. A young man bought my plane ticket, and I was able to fly to Rome.
And so I entered into the vast garden of world poetry. Books of my poetry have been published in about ten countries, and translated into some thirty languages. I think how this nomad’s son had the great destiny to come into this wonderful world, a gathering of people of great cultural and intellectual talent. But I didn’t arrive empty-handed. I pulled Mongol literature with me, as much as I could.
I am also fortunate to have had with me able translators such as my dear friend, the late Sh.Tsog, and a young Englishman Simon Wickham-Smith, as well as N.Dorjgotov and N.Enhbayar.
English translations have been made of the works of, among others, Danzanravjaa, a nineteenth century scholar and a poet who directly grasped the Buddha’s secret mantra, and my teacher, the twentieth century poet B.Yavuuhulan, and these books have been taken into the poetry gardens of many of the world’s countries. We have produced an anthology of the best of Mongol poetry and prose, from the time of the Hünnü until the twentieth century, which has reached those who wield a pen in the west. Books of poetry by two talented people of our own time, O.Dashbalbar and D.Nyamsüren, have also been translated into English. I am not alone. We are all together. I am happy that I have come into this garden alongside books of many better poets than I. I have not made any profit from them, nor have I been miserly, rather I have dealt them all a fair hand. Moreover, any influence that I might enjoy in Mongol society has been gained with the assistance and kindness afforded me by such people I pay myself only what remains as a wage.
As the son of a nomadic herder, I was tuned by the melody of the horsehead fiddle, and the horses and the people alike listened to the long songs and the horsehead fiddle, gauging their steps by the movementof the carts. When I was five years old, I was riding a fast horse, flying along on its mane. When I was thirteen I was too heavy for a horse, I chnged my work to herding the cattle and tending the sheep. From that time I began to write poetry. When I was in sixth grade, my first poetry teacher, the well-known poet D.Gombojav had my first poem published. Then it was not the horse’s mane upon which I rode, but upon the shaman’s horse.
I am the son of a real herder, then, I have written dozens of articles and songs. I have visited UNESCO, the World Bank, countries such as italy and Japan, I have given presentations with such titles as “The Preservaton of Mongol Nomadic Culture,” “The State of Nomadism in Twenty-first Century Mongolia” and “Where are Mongol Nomads Travelling?” My very lungs and heart are entangled in this work and, though I shout as loudly as I can, little attention is paid and the work is not done. The valuable traditions of the herding community, the ways and customs of Mongol nomadic life, are disappearing.
In Sharbürd, around where I was born, there was an unsuccessful proposal, the so-called “Twenty-first Century Mongol Nomad Plan,” to construct two buildings, to harvest solar and wind power, and to plant flowers and fruit. My own people, unchecked, steal trees and rocks, they have their livstock eat the newly-planted trees, and young business types sell them off cheaply in the name of progress. Such tings have been proposed and acted upon in my lifetime, they have not brought us peace.
In 1990, however, the movement of the horsehead fiddle brought us peace, and the world listened in amazement to the horsehead fiddle, and the Mongol people returned the once-damaged horsehead fiddle to its place of honor. I remembered my father’s fiddle and wrote hree books. Ome ofour scholars sought radically to revive the theory of the horsehead fiddle. In any case, the work was really down to the children of those herders who had had horsehead fiddles in their families when they were growing up. The Buddha had granted me a little time and, moreover, a little money, and I thought to plan a “Twenty-first Century Nomadic Movement” in my country. This would most probably be the last thing I would do with my hobby. If I couldn’t do it, then so be it. I trusted that the heart and the feeling of the “gentle nomadic melody” of my poetry and my other works would preserve such memories and valuable items, those ideas whih were important to Mongol nomads, into the future.
“A man who’s chasing a pair of rabbits hangs about in vain,” runs a Mongol saying. Focus on one of them! The idea is that, if you go after many things, you won’t get anything. Nonetheless I am a man chasing a pair of rabbits. Poetry, recitation, literaty studies, cultural studies, preserving cultural heritage, the horsehead fiddle, nomadic civilisation…I write all types of literature. Drama, film scripts, epic, song lyrics, novels, stories…But I remain a poet in everything I do. The soul of all my writing is poetry.
Now I am writing about the fifth Noyon Hutagt Danzanravjaa, a brilliant nineteenth century scholar and poet. When I visit Danzanravjaa’s monastery at Hamriin Hiid, when I practise meditation there, I ask him for a blessing on my work. I feel that what I write pleass Danzanravjaa. After this, I’m going to write a book about the poet D.Natsagdorj, one of Mongolia’s most talented writers, similar in his talent to Pushkin, and who died at the age of thirty-one.
At the end of my life I’ll write a book called Fire and the Three Poets. This will deal with how I became friends with the two great writers of the late twentieth century, D.Nyamsüren and O.Dashbalbar, and how we brought Mongol poetry into the present century, it will be a vibrant song of yearning and love and passion.
Thus this nomad’s son Mend-Ooyo, chasing after many rabbits, following many paths, brings all the rabbits together amid the feathergrass, will try to present an intellectual and poetic biography. At that time, following the name of one of the songs I wrote in the prime of my youth, those who come after me will certainly agree that I am the son of “Mother Earth.” The paths I’ve walked over the Earth my Mother, pen in hand…
For the majority of my life so far, Mongolia was a socialist country. Despite what was done under the socialist system, I as neither a Marxist nor a Leninist. I remained faithful to Mongol ethnic culture, its history, traditions, customs, script and language, and within my father and mother, nomadic herders, and the elders of the countryside too, remained firm. My contemporaries and I still retain the desire to preserve the ethnic language and culture, to remain the child of a true nomadic society, to continue to explain and present this society, and to unite it with democracy.
In today’s global culture, the language and thought of my own literary works is in certain ways rather demanding for younger people. They are interested in other things now, they are striving for different goals, and the most significant aspects of the cultural heritage of the Mongol people and their nomadic society go unnoticed and are as though nonexistent. But my works of literature, culture and language constitute a determined effort to preserve these valuable elements, which were lost to Mongol society during the twentieth century. It seems that my life has n this way been devoted to bringing together and preserving the heritage, the roots of Mongol nomadic culture, the horsehead fiddle, the script, and the people’s history.
The rich treasury of native Mongol langage in particular, and of its fine poetry, have often helped me to explin the tradition and essence of nomadic society and its historical culture, and I for one trust that the most valuable treasure, which bring into the future our ancestors’ wisdom, absorbed into our language, are the paths of the written word, along which I am walking
22 August 2010
translated by Simon Wickhamsmith