What you see above is called a Ger (you may have heard it called a "yurt"). It is the traditional home of Mongolians, virtually unchanged since the times of Chingghis Khan. The word Ger is an all-encompassing term simply meaning "home". People who live in modern high-rise apartments in the city will still call their home their Ger. The nomadic people of the steppe have lived in Gers for generations, living a herder's simple lifestyle. They can pick up and move whenever they need to as the Ger's are very easy to deconstruct and re-assemble, yet they are sturdy in the wind, cool in the summer and insulating in the harsh winters. Big families may have more than one Ger, others being more space for beds or for utlities & storage.
Fun Fact: All Ger doors by tradition must be positioned to face the South, as it the sun travels from east to west on a southern arc. It is because of this that we consider south to be the direction of fortune.
Over the summer, my family and I visited a relative of ours who lives not to far from the capital city UlaanBaatar and spent a day with them.
The horse is incredibly important in Mongolian culture. Nowhere else is it so central to daily life, and Mongolians have a reputation for being the best horsemen on Earth. It is traditionally said that, "A mongol without a horse is like a bird without wings". Most boys are trained to ride horses at a very early age, as they are expected to help with herding and other errands. It is also because young boys are encouraged to participate in the horse races of the national holiday Naadam, where being light gives you a competitive advantage.
Above is a traditional slaughtering of a sheep; usually reserved for special occasions. Every organ is prepared for a feast and the wool is collected to sell and made into cashmere. Nothing is wasted as these nomads depend on their livestock as their livelihood. Unlike western methods of sheep slaughter where the animal is hung upside-down and its throat slit; nomads make a incision in the stomach to reach in with their hand and cut the spinal cord so death is quicker and less gruesome. Also, blood gives the meat more flavor and is used to make blood curd.
One of the cameras I had with me, a Leica M3 that I got online while traveling, had a sticky shutter problem that I only found out months later when I developed these so, unfortunately, I got a lot of half exposed frames. Some of them turned out alright though. Mental note: never buy a camera and use it without testing it first!
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- Leica M3 + 50 Cron Rigid | Tri-X + XTOL | Pakon
- Xpan + 40mm | Tri-X + XTOL | Pakon
- Hasslblad 501c + 80mm | Tri-X + XTOL | V700