A Mongol without a horse is like a bird without the wings
October 4, 2017 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Horse culture in Mongolia is extensive, but much of its history is not well known. Take, for example, the intricately carved deer stone pillars that are often accompanied by horse skulls and few other clues to this ancient culture, and the fairly intact burial of a possible seamstress from 1,100 years ago, with a sacrificed horse. The last truly wild horses still live in Mongolia, where monuments to Mongolian history feature horses and tribute is still paid to dead horses.

The deer stone-khirigsuur complex (DSKC) is the earliest appearance in Mongolia of a distinctive mortuary landscape tradition (PDF, via), found on the northern fringe of the Mongolian steppe, south of the forested mountains of Tuva in southern Siberia. These plinths are often accompanied by stone burial mounds, and are part of a components of a single Late Bronze Age mortuary ceremonial system dating to ca. 1200-700 BC. The stone carvings are interesting in that the animals featured are generally natural, except for the flying deer, which has lead to speculation and theories of Deer Goddess of Siberia or Chimera of the Steppe (PDF, via).

Modern people still know precious little about when, how, and why horsemanship was first adopted in the Mongolian steppes, but archaeologists like William Taylor are trying to learn more from ancient sacrificial horse burials.
posted by filthy light thief (10 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
This is the cool stuff I come to MetaFilter for. Great post!
posted by Fizz at 8:12 AM on October 4 [1 favorite]

This post was inspired by a popular image on Mltshp, which was a picture from what is called on many English language sites a monument or temple to Mongolian horses, which put the horse skulls and blue Dhar in the foreground with the horse statues in the background. But when I used Google to auto-translate the text on the arch frame in this image (ϺОНГОЛ ТУМНИЙ МОРИНЫ "ИХ ШУТЗЗН"), it translates to The "CITIZEN" HASHIM MONGOLIA. Omit the quotes, and it's THE HISTORY OF MONGOLIA HISTORY.

(But keep only the end quote, and its The Histories of the Harmonized Society ", or keep the mid-phrase quote and it becomes The "Pesticides" of the HHS -- clearly I have no idea what I'm doing now.)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:22 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]

I should note that this post was also inspired by Johnny Wallflower bringing back the Memento Mori October tag.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:45 AM on October 4

Ah, this reminds me, the 2007 Russian 'semi-historical epic' film "Mongol" was supposed to be the first of a trilogy. Checking wikipedia, I see that the next two films did not get made :(
posted by thelonius at 8:46 AM on October 4 [4 favorites]

Excellent thank you thank you!
posted by carter at 9:08 AM on October 4

Przewalski horses! They've reintroduced some in Xihu park near Dunhuang in China, which I kinda accidentally got to see. (A friend and I organised a trip to the Yumenguan while in Dunhuang, and were also brought to Xihu park and saw some interesting horses. It was only on showing the pictures to a colleague later that my "interesting, possibly Mongolian ponies" horses got properly identified as Przewalski horses.)
posted by scorbet at 9:21 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]

(But keep only the end quote, and its The Histories of the Harmonized Society ", or keep the mid-phrase quote and it becomes The "Pesticides" of the HHS -- clearly I have no idea what I'm doing now.)

::smiling appreciation of a familiar face in a familiar place on an internet gone crazy as fuck these days, especially for poc::
posted by infini at 10:22 AM on October 4

@filthy light thief,

Google translate is known by folks in and visiting Mongolia to be essentially useless in translating Mongolian... bolor-toli.com is the way to go!

Also be careful with the words/letters! You are trying to translate words using "у" instead of "ү" and with "з" instead of "э." The word is шүтээн not шутззн. i.e. "ikh shuteen," "many deities/gods," so we get "Mongolian" "Ethnic/National" "Of Horses" and "Many Gods" ... so probably something along the lines of "The Many Deities of the Mongolian Ethnic Horses" (without knowing any info from syntax or declension indicators as to the meaning).

Your post was still ofc funny!
posted by auggy at 12:57 PM on October 4 [5 favorites]

auggy, thanks all around! I knew MeFites would step in and fill in gaps in what I could suss out.

It's a reminder that the internet hasn't documented everything every (in English), because it was really hard to get any information on what that location really is. The best I found were people making semi-wild guesses about what was going on there. [That said, it may be well detailed in Mongolian, for all I know, so it's also a reminder that the internet is bigger than the English speaking portions of the world.]
posted by filthy light thief at 1:15 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]

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