In Search of Warriors
February 23, 2018 2:53 AM   Subscribe

A story told by my grandfather sparked a fascination. Far to the east lies a land, wild and vast, inhabited by the legendary warriors who rescued my grandfather. Mongolia. For fifteen years, I’ve returned to this country, seeking to understand the raw beauty and tenacity that shapes those who call it home. A stunning photo essay
posted by smoke (8 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
That was fascinating and beautiful. Thanks for posting.
posted by COD at 5:17 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

That is a really beautiful series of photographs. I've been kinda obsessed with Mongolia since I read Tim Cope's On the Trail of Genghis Khan, and started to follow him online. Tim buys horses in Ulaanbaatar, and rides from Mongolia to Hungary.

I like the proverb 'if you want to build high, you must dig deep' in this story. Another Mongolian proverb I think about a lot is 'if you want to get somewhere quickly, rush slowly' and that one also resonates with what LaGrange relates about his changed sense of time.
posted by honey-barbara at 5:39 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]

What a great article, thank you. Makes one take stock of how fleeting our time here really is, and how petty and wasteful in contrast, current life (politics, consumerism & tech) in the US.

As I've gotten older, I've come to suspect that nomadic is how I should be, and it's something I've been fighting my whole life, for no good reason. We don't get time back.
posted by yoga at 7:00 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

Fifteen years ago I tutored the Mongolian ambassador to Canada's wife for one very brief session. It amounted to a short conversation and then me saying "Your English is much better than mine. It might even be better than anyone's at this school".

She had the poise and dignity of a queen and I was incredibly discomfited by how outclassed I was sitting there in a seventies-era brutalist concrete community college cafeteria tutoring English as a Second Language for $15/hour.

It was one of those moments that really sticks with you.
posted by srboisvert at 7:03 AM on February 23 [6 favorites]

Beautiful. Thank you.
posted by sunset in snow country at 8:06 AM on February 23

What a spectacular piece. Thank you for the post.
posted by rtha at 8:59 AM on February 23

Man, those grandparents looked tired, elegant, and jaded by yurt life. What an amazing formal portrait.
posted by Oyéah at 9:26 AM on February 23

> A stunning photo essay

Stunning indeed; thanks for posting! I enjoyed the author's account of his travels, but his historical sense is a little shaky (which is totally understandable, since that's not his focus). This sentence is so incomprehensible I suspect an editing fail: "The eagle hunters are all ethnic Kazakh their ancestors having fled to neighbouring Mongolia during the mid to late 19th century, in the face of the advance of the Russian Empire troops during the communist era." (Obviously, the communist era, beginning in November 1917, came after the Russian Empire; the Kazakhs came to Mongolia around 1860 and later.) And if he knows anything about the 20th-century history of the country, he doesn't show it; as it happens, starting in the late 1930s, Mongolia was subjected to the full brutality of Stalinist terror under the appalling Choibalsan, and those legendary warriors who rescued his grandfather were either lucky survivors or killers themselves — or, of course, both. (I first learned about that history from David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, which is a hell of a read.) I don't mean to take away anything from the post or the photo essay, I just thought it should be mentioned.
posted by languagehat at 1:02 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]

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