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Inner Mongolia

Torghuts in Inner Mongolia largely concentrate in two places: Ejene banner and Hohhot. Numbering about 2,000, Torghuts in Ejene are descendants of a 500-person mission sent from Kalmykia to Tibet in 1698 but failed to return due to the Qing-Jungar war. In the 1930s, the banner became a major destination of the Khalkha refugees from the Mongolian People's Republic, resulting in wide-scale inter-marriages and cultural fusion of the two Mongolian communities. Having lost many of their best knowledge-bearers, in recent years, they have been on the fore-front of cultural revitalisation, promoting themselves as the world-centre of Oirat culture, which is the umbrella culture of the Kalmyk/Torghuts.

Hohhot is home to some Oirat/Torghut intellectuals from Xinjiang and Ejene. In recent years, young Oirats from Xinjiang have been streaming to universities in Hohhot for classical Mongolian-medium education.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 39
  • ItemOpen Access
    Dashichoiling Temple
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-08-06) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Burjigin; Burunsain, Borjigin; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Burjigin; Burensain; Dorjraa
    The video is about the history of Buddhist monasteries in Ejine and the regular activity of the Dashchoilin Monastery.Gunga used to be an administrative lama in Baruun Süm (western monastery or Janchuvnamjil Monastery) for about ten years until the great Torghut migration in 1958. He said that there were about 70 in the Dambaldarja monastery and the Dashcholin monastery, but after the Commune movement in 1958, only about 20 eldest lamas were allowed to remain, and the rest were sent to work in farms. The monasteries were completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution period. Religious activities resumed in the 1980s when a few lamas and local religious people built some rugged houses of worship. The government rebuilt the Dashchoilin Monastery in 2014.Currently, prayer meetings happen on the 8th, 15th and 19th of each month when local Mongolians often come and pray.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Daily Life of An Ejnee Torghut Herding Family
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-07-07) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    Bolor is a Halh, and his wife Tsetseg is a Torghut. They have about 20,000 mu rangeland which they have fenced into three sections for herding about 500 goats and about 15 cows in different seasons. Tsetseg says that they got married in 1998 and have been herding since then. Their daily routine is as follows:The couple get up at 5 am to start the morning chores such as getting out cows, feeding kids with corn, and milking goats. The work is completed by 9 am when they have breakfast. After breakfast, as shown in the video, Tsetseg is making some dairy foods for about an hour while Bolor is studying wrestling technics that he is preparing for the summer festival. After taking some rest or nap at noon Bolor goes to their range to provide water to goats and check pest problems. Tsetseg continues making dairy food. At about 5 pm they separate goats from their kids in two different pens, and milk cows and make cream. They go to bed around 11 pm.
  • ItemOpen Access
    An Ejnee Torghut Family
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-07-05) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    This video features a herding Torghut family with a house at the Ejine banner centre. Batuzandan is a painter who paints Torghut patterns on furniture. His wife Tsetseg looks after their sheep and goats. Their son, who majored in painting at university, is planning to open his workshop in Ejine.Tsetseg sets out early in the morning by motorcycle to the countryside where she herds their goat and sheep flocks and comes back home after sunset. She says that they have fenced their land for many years, and they are suitable for herding in different seasons. Except for springtime, they mostly live in the banner centre and go back to the pasture once every two days in summer to provide water. She also talks about the government initiated development project called ‘ten complete covers’ (M. araviig bürheh; C. shige quan fugai) in the countryside, and is worried that their old shed will be pulled down soon. Due to the drop of market prices of meat and cashmere, the couple has been forced to rent out part of their land to some Han Chinese for cantaloupe cultivation over the last few years. Cantaloupe is used to feed animals in wintertime. Tsetseg complains that Han Chinese are too dirty as they litter loads of plastic bags every year which she has to clean up. If not for money, she says, they would certainly not rent out their land to the Han Chinese.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Alasha Torghut Wrestling, Obog Names, and Other Matters
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-07-21) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.
    Orshil claims that he is one of the descendants of Galdan Boshugt Khan. In this interview, he mentions several new Oirat surnames that have emerged in Bayan Nurgan: Jin (金) for Ööld, Yangjia (杨家) for Hoid, Sijia (四家) for Dörbet and Duanjia (缎家) for Torghut.Orshil also explains in detail the immigrants and their integration into the Alasha Mongolian community. Bagtamal is someone who has joined the family (obogt bagtah) as a formal member, whereas Budachin is one who works for a family to get food for survival. He says that tens and thousands of Han Chinese fled from Shaanxi province and Gansu province to Alasha in 1960, and the Mongols adopted those poor Han Chinese as bagtamal and budachin.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A Torghut Mongol Doctor
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-08-03) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Burunsain, Borjigin; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Borjigin Burensain; Dorjraa
    Badrah is a traditional cultural heritage inheritor of Torghut medicine in the Ejine banner. He learned Torghut medicine from his maternal relatives who had been forced to migrate to Subei county during the Culture Revolution. He was assigned to work in the Ejine banner. In 1976, he and some others were sent by their brigade leader to Jiuquan city to study medicine. In Jiuquan, one of his maternal relatives came from Subei as a teacher and she passed on to him her leather drug bag and some medical equipments in 1980. Badrah is now the 7th generation Torghut medicine inheritor in Ejine, his lineage coming down along the following line: Lagva – Nawandorj – Degdee – Renqin – Jimbai – Shaduw – Isgalsan – Badrah. The Ejine Mongolian hospital is the centre of Torghut medicine in Ejine, specialising in treating brain concussion and suhai töönöge (moxibustion with rose willow). By suhai töönöge, a doctor burns a tamarisk stick on a particular acupoint. Regarding concussion, Badrah recalls that when he was a child, he fell off from a camel. He vomited, could not even walk properly and was always sleepy and had migraine. He remembers that his father invited a local homoeopath to treat him. He just let him bite a big iron cauldron, and he beat on it with a stick hard. The vibration sent a shockwave from his head to the whole body and he was cured the next day.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A Private Mongolian Museum
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-08-05) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Burunsain, Borjigin; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Borjigin Burensain; Dorjraa
    The private museum appeared in the video is owned by Mergeji with her husband. Containing antiques they have collected locally – potteries, copper tanks and teakettles from the Khara-Khoto – they officially opened this museum in 2016. It also displays various tools for making dairy products which mostly belonged to Torghut noble families.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Zend Chess Playing
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-01-19) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    Zend chess is a wooden card game amongst the Ejine Torghuts. It has 60 pieces of plank cards which can be played by 3 to 10 people at the same time. Each card has its name, and they represent different stratified levels: Norov is the throne, Korol the general followed by lions and 12 Chinese zodiacs. The rule of the game is that players are distributed cards equally, they then collect additional cards from others to make yurts. It has the following results from the worst to the best: hödöö honoh (homeless), shovoodai (shed), shungurtsag ger (cuff), övdön ger (knee-level yurt), ger (yurt) and the best is asar (building).Lin Suiyin says that Zend was very popular when she was a child, but it has been revived in recent years after having disappeared for a few decades. Lin Suiyin is 85 years old now.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Watering Camels and Goats
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-07-22) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.
    Due to the lack of sufficient shallow water wells, the Togoji family use a deep well to provide water for their goats and camels. As shown in the video, they are using a solar powered watering machine to pump water from the deep well. Goats drink water every day while camels once in a few days.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Traditional Torghut Women’s Costume
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-01-15) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    In this video Lin Suiyin and Lin Gerel, mother and daughter-in-law, explain Ejine Torghut women’s traditional dresses.Torghut women’s dresses have multiple different styles for various occasions. Dresses are distinguished for unmarried girls and married women, for casual and official occasions, and for nobles and ordinary folks. In the video, Lin Suiyin wears a Torghut costume made by Lin Gerel under her guidance. She says that there are particular styles distinguishing Torghut dresses from other Mongolian dresses. Today, however, the so-called traditional dresses have mixed styles from different groups, and they are in Lin Suiyin’s eyes highly offensive.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Torghut Urtiin Duu (Long Songs)
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-01-12) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    Sanjiin Khand is an urtiin duu singer and deputy head of the Ejine Torghut Urtiin Duu Association. She says that her father often sang in the toorai (diversifolious poplar) forest of Ejine when he herded sheep and locals called him toorain duuchin. Her mother was also an urtiin duu singer who learned singing from Boov who was once the official urtiin duu singer of Prince Lhavangjav. Kand remembers her mother as someone who could sing for three nights and nights without repeating, and she helped her mother record about 100 songs which will be published soon. She regrets, however, that she only remembers 3 of the 13 special songs her mother liked to sing that praise Ejine Torghuts' thirteen light bay (13 heer) horses, which is a great cultural loss. The Ejine Urtiin Duu Association was established in 2002 as a branch of the Alasha League Urtiin Duu Association. Since its establishment, the Association published a series of Alsha folksong books. In 2012, the Ejine branch officially became an independent urtiin duu association in Ejine with about 100 members who were predominantly local elders. The new association has since been organising local Torghut urtiin duu singers to participate in the competitions in Alsha League and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. And Kand also keeps in touch with other Torghut singers in Xinjiang through Wechat. The association periodically teaches in primary schools in Ejine. Despite these successes, Kand has some worries as well. She is concerned that the younger generations now find the Torghut urtiin duu melodies too long and too difficult to sing, and they are more attracted to Halh Mongolian short songs.Kand sang three songs in this interview. The first song is called Shar Talin Burgas (Bushes in Shar Tal) which she believes was composed in Shar Tal where Ejine Torghuts temporarily lived before settling in Ejine. In her view, the song expresses the Torghuts’ aspiration to return to Kalmykia as soon as possible. The second one is Ejine Tuuliin Us, which sings about the Ejine river, the Bayanbogd mountains and Torghut leaders. Composed after their settlement in Ejine, the song celebrates their comfortable life along the Ejine river. The last one is Örgön Ih Ijil Zai, which she learned from her mother. She says this song was composed when the Torghuts were still in the Volga region.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Torghut Music
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-01-22) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    In this video, Baldan sings Örgön Ih Torghud Nutug (The wide and great Torghut homeland) and a Jangar song. Baldan is a herder and he has come to the banner centre to rehearse for a performance in Chagan Sar – the Lunar New Year. He says that they have been unaware of these cultural things until a teacher from Xinjiang came and taught them a few years ago.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Torghut Mongol medicine
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-08-05) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Burunsain, Borjigin; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Borjigin Burensain; Dorjraa
    This video is about Torghut Mongolian suhai töönöge (moxibustion with rose willow) and the concussion treatment in the Ejine Mongolian Hospital. Badrah works at the Ejine Mongolian Hospital and specialises in moxibustion and treating concussion. Suhai töönöge is a special treatment method he introduced based on traditional Torghut medicine and now it has become a brand of the hospital. Patients who come for treatment are local Mongols, Han Chinese, and even Mongolians from Ömnögobi province of Mongolia. A Mongolian in the video says that thanks to convenient transportation and low fee they regularly come for this therapy.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Torghut Folklore: Yonghong
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-01-18) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    This video contains some interesting details about the history of the Ejine Torghuts. After their settlement in Ejine almost 300 years ago, Torghut nobles took wives mostly from the Halh Mongols. Yonghong says that although traditional Torghut clothes have been preserved very well, the Torghuts in Ejine have lost many of their culture, for instance, the Jangar epic and the Savardan dance. Torghuts used to herd horses, cattle and sheep, but today camels and goats predominate. In everyday life, once can see some differences between the Torghuts and the Halh. The Torghut yurt, for example, is taller than the Halh version. The Torghuts are mostly Buddhist, though some also believe in shamanism. There are three monasteries in Ejine: Dashchoilin, Janchinamjil, and Dambadarjia, the last of which being a Halh monastery built in the 1930s. Today, lamas can marry and have children, and they live in their own homes, only coming to monasteries for chanting on certain days.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Torghut Folklore: Namjilma
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-01-23) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    The Ejine Torghuts have 13 clans, but most people don’t know which one they belong to; they only know that they are Torghuts. Namjilma says that a couple of years ago the Ejine banner government organised a get-together event, but few showed up, because most people do not know their clan names. In the video, Namjilma says that she learned about 60 songs from her maternal relatives, but her learning was cut short in 1958 when she was 14. That year, due to the military occupation of their homeland, her maternal relatives had to move to the Mazong mountains while she was sent to the Gurnai farm with her brother. She can now remember the melodies of most of the songs but not the lyrics. She has written down 40 stories she has heard from her father.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The songs for thirteen colors of horses
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-01-20) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    Namjilma sings a song called Narin Saihan Heer (The beautiful thin bay horse), which is one of the thirteen legendary coloured horses of the Ejine Torghuts. Nowadays, few people can sing these songs properly. As shown in the video, Namjilma also looks at her lyrics whilst singing.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Ganjuur Touring Ceremony
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-07-18) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Burunsain, Borjigin; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Borjigin Burensain; Dorjraa
    The Ganjuur touring ceremony is a religious event amongst Torghuts in Ejine held once a year in the Bayanbogd mountains. Hasbagana, who is the ritual administrator of the ceremony, says that the Ganjuur tour involves carrying 108 Buddhist sutras from the Dashchoilin monastery all over the Ejine banner once a year for beckoning adequate rainfall, increase of livestock and good health. Locals often join the tour to share its auspiciousness. Before 1949, Ejine Torghtus loaded the Ganjuur sutras on camels and it took months to complete the tour, but today, Torghut lamas tour around by cars and the whole process takes about ten days.In the Ejine banner centre, one can see young people occasionally walking around the Dashchoilin monastery with Ganjuur sutras on their back. The five young people interviewed in the video went around the monastery for good jobs, good health and successful marriages.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A Monastic Administrator
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-08-04) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Burunsain, Borjigin; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Borjigin Burensain; Dorjraa
    Hasbagan is the principal administrator of the Dashchoilin monastery in Ejine. Educated in a Buddhist college in Inner Mongolia he became a monk in the monastery in 1997. As an administrator of the monastery, he is paid a salary by the Bureau of Religion of the Ejine banner. His ancestors worked for Torghut nobles in the past, his grandfather once being a meiren (military commander) of the banner when Prince Lhavangjav was in power. He consequently suffered during the Cultural Revolution.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Start of a film shooting ceremony
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2017-07-24) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    The video shows the opening ceremony of the shooting of the Film “Torghut Prince Lhavangjav” held in Prince Lhavangjav’s Residence that was constructed in 1938. The Residence is now officially designated as the centre for the remembrance of the Ejine Torghtus’ return to the motherland and a centre for patriotic education.The film is sponsored by the Ejine banner government in cooperation with the Inner Mongolian TV and a film making company from Mongolia. During the ceremony, local Torghuts visited the Residence. In the film, Lhavangjav will be acted by someone from Mongolia.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Songs and Political History of Ejnee Torghuts
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-05-02) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    Tsermee grew up as an adopted daughter in a Torghut herder family in the Bayanbogd mountains. The family was originally from Xinjiang. As Tsermee heard from them, they went on a pilgrimage from Xinjiang to Wutaishan where the wife gave birth to a girl called Samgaitsetseg but they decided to present her to someone called Darhan Merged. They adopted Tseremee after their arrival at Ejine.Tsermee was one of the victims in the dislocation of the Ejine Torghuts in 1958. During this migration, she composed an urtiin duu about her personal experience which she sang in the video. The Torghuts were removed from the Bayanbogd mountains to the Mazong mountains where they herded until 1968. They were then forced to return to the Ejine banner where they underwent another ten years of unrest.The songs that Tsermee sang in the interview represent three historical periods. Manan Tuhai is a song Torghuts sang in the Volga and is still well known amongst the Ejine Torghuts. She sang a Subei Mongolian urtiin duu which she learned from Subei Mongolians while she lived in the Mazong mountains. She also sang a Buryat song which she learned from Buryats who came to Alasha with Prince Demchugdonrov in 1949. She said that some Buryats lived in the Bayanbogd mountains where they flourished with their domestic animals.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Sacred Toorai Tree (Diversifolious Poplar)
    (Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge, 2018-07-19) Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Bulag, Uradyn E.; Dorjraa; Dorjraa
    This video features Bor, descendant of an Ejine Torghut noble family, who talks about a sacred Toorai tree growing next to her house. During the Cultural Revolution, her parents were imprisoned in the banner centre. She came back to her home in 1998 after years of camel herding for another family. The tree used to be called Sarhiru Toorai, meaning the source place of multiple rivers and springs, but after the banner government promoted tourism around the tree in 2002, it has become an object of worship called Sahilsun Toorai (deity tree) or even Burhan Toorai (Buddha tree). She says that it is 28 metres tall and she heard from scientists that it is already 3,000 years old. The tree has its own stories. Her father, a prince, told her when she was a child that in the 1930s, some of his servants shot the tree, and a few months later the prince’s feet grew moles which gradually got worse. A Buddhist monk called Ustu Lama was called; he chanted for seven days, and organised a horse race and wrestling competition. Soon after that, her ailment was cured.In 1990, a Han Chinese who had been living in this place from the Cultural Revolution onward moved away because of the sudden decrease of his livestock. Locals said that he broke a branch of the old tree and killed a huge black snake here. After this strange incident, since nobody dared to live there again, the government allowed Bor to move back.Since 2002, Bor has been organising a tree worship ritual every year on the 15th of the eighth month by the lunar calendar. The Ejine banner government has also asked her to charge 10 yuan from each tourist who comes to see the tree, but she must give half of the income to the government. Today, however, the government wants her to hand over the site to a tourist company called Hetianxia. She refuses, insisting that she has a 50-year use right for her ancestral land. Besides, she argues that the Torghuts’ sacred worshipping place should not belong to a Han Chinese company.Bor says that the government has been pressurising them to give up the land. The banner leader himself even visited her once promising to pay her ¥ 50,000 a year if she transfers the right to the company. She thinks the government is vulgar and cunning. She is 66 years old now and has registered her grandson as her inheritor, but she is concerned that her three sons who work for the government in the banner centre might not be able to get anything from this inheritance.