Analyst , Mongolian Institute for Geopolitical Studies
In the era of globalization the preservation and safeguarding of the world’s cultural diversity and its cultural heritage has become the most urgent task of mankind which is singled out in the 1972 UNESCO Convention to this effect. Cultural heritage is the inseparable element of National Identity. As far as National Identity preserved and safeguarded a nation survives. Therefore this problem remains to be a constant issue for geopolitical studies.
Part A. Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mongols
The Mongolian intangible cultural heritage consists of oral traditions and expressions, including the native language, performing arts, rituals and festive events. They are closely connected with nature. Mongolian intangible cultural heritage represents pure Mongolian phenomenon. It is the integral part of nomadic civilization.
UNESCO inscribed the following onto the World Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding: the traditional music of the Morin Khuur (horse-headed fiddle) in 2003, the Urtyn Duu (traditional folk long song) in 2005, the Mongolian Traditional Art of Khoomii and the Naadam (Mongolian traditional festival) in 2010, the Tuuli (Mongolian traditional epic), the Mongolian Traditional Music of the Tsuur, and the Mongolian Traditional Dance called the Bii Biyelgee in 2009. UNESCO proclaimed these elements of Mongolian Cultural Heritage as masterpieces of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
The Mongolian folktales, folk art, handcrafts, folk knowledge, rituals and festivals are linked with the nomadic way of life.
Mongolian intangible cultural heritage is also linked to shamanism, which has been practiced for many centuries. This peculiarity is expressed in the various charms and spells, folk medicine, mountain worship, and rituals. The Mongolian intangible cultural heritage is also enriched with Buddhist art, custom, rituals and ceremonies. Mongolian national intangible cultural heritage is an expression of Mongolian creative thought and its uniqueness.
The safeguarding of National Identity is the sine-qua-non for independence and survival of any Nation. Here we see the linkage between cultural heritage and national identity. Therefore Mongolia is active within UNESCO.
The world intangible cultural heritage undergoes changes from period to period. But its value remains intact and valid. It remains a living entity and can be found throughout Mongolia. The intangible cultural heritage permanently exists in the psychology of our people and it is conveyed through their body motion, language and mind. It is possible to say that the intangible cultural heritage is a living tradition. It is not easy to either identify or conserve the intangible culture heritage because it is in constant change. The intangible cultural heritage is the expression of the previous periods of our nation and its ethnic groups and provides evidence of their evolution and development.
We have to reveal the link and co-relationship between space and intangible heritage in the Mongolian case. Although seriously affect each other modernity and intangible cultural heritage do not necessarily exclude each other. There are signs and examples that they enrich each other making the cultural heritage acceptable to wide range of strata, even to other nations.
I would briefly take up the modern and traditional trends in the contemporary Mongolian arts that forms a new, modern Heritage. There can be a cultural heritage not only traditional and nomadic but also mixed, modern, influenced by other trends mainly ones. However typical and genuinely Mongolian cultural heritage does exist.
Part B. Ways and means for Preservation and Conservation of this Cultural Heritage
Since 1990, Mongolia has opened to the rest of the world and embarked on a new path of development. Our national pride has been revived. We have re-animated our traditional culture and heritage and there is now a favorable condition to preserve and safeguard our national culture.
The Mongolian Parliament adopted the Law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage. The President of Mongolia issued decrees on the reverence and protection of the horse-headed fiddle, long song, and khoomii. The government also approved national programs to develop folk art, the horse-headed fiddle playing, long song and khoomii singing, and biyelgee dancing, all of which play significant roles in developing folk art.
Since 1997 Mongolia has more closely cooperated with UNESCO. Mongolian experts and specialists actively participated in UNESCO programs and projects to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage. The “Central Asian Epic” international symposium and festival was held in Mongolia in 1998. At this moment, Mongolian cultural figures and artists established the National Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage and started truly virtuous activities for the registration of artists, audio and audio-visual recordings and other types of documentation in the newly established centre.
Mongolia is experiencing rapid globalization and urbanization. The space of the intangible cultural heritage has undergone dramatic changes. The modern trends of mass culture and art are invading Mongolia. Positive and negative influences of Western culture are evident on Mongolian culture. There is a real possibility that the traditional intangible cultural heritage could be eliminated in a short span of time. The trends of urbanization, the flow of human population from the countryside to the cities, globalization, popular culture, standardized education, and arbitrary tourism are having a bad influence upon the rising generations. They reduce the interest and reverence of youth toward the national cultural heritage. This is causing a serious concern.
Due to sensibility and vulnerability of intangible cultural heritage there might be threats both external and internal. Utmost attention should be paid by the Government itself encouraging all possible ways and means to promote and preserve intangible cultural heritage of the Nation.
In conclusion I would like to single out the need to take concrete measures to preserve and promote the intangible cultural heritage of the Mongolian Nation.