12.7.09

Flying Monday July 13, 2009.

Today I am flying the flag of Mongolia. It is currently the Mongolian holiday and Festival of Naadam.


The current flag of Mongolia was adopted on February 12, 1992. It is similar to the flag of 1949, except for the removal of the socialist star.

The previous flag.

It has three equal, vertical bands of red (hoist side), blue, and red. Centered on the hoist-side red band in yellow is the national emblem (the Soyombo symbol - a columnar arrangement of abstract and geometric representations of fire, sun, moon, earth, water, and the Taijitu or Yin-Yang symbol).


Taijitu (a Chinese word that translates roughly as 'diagram of ultimate power') is a term which refers to any of the Chinese symbols for the concept of yin and yang (Taiji), and is sometimes extended to similar geometric patterns used historically by various cultures. The most recognized form is composed of two semi-circular teardrop-shaped curves of different colors, or a circle separated by an S-shaped line, where each half is marked with a dot in the opposite (or different) color.


Naadam

Naadam is a traditional type of festival in Mongolia. The festival is also locally termed "eriin gurvan naadam" "the three games of men". The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery and are held throughout the country during the midsummer holidays. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling.

The biggest festival is held in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11th – 13th, in the National Sports Stadium. Other cities and towns across Mongolia and those with significant Mongolian, have their own, smaller scale Naadam celebrations. It begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin.


Naadam is the most widely watched festival in the country, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country.

The festival is also celebrated among ethnic Mongolians in the Inner Mongolia region of China and Mongolian communities overseas.


Mongolia

Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It borders Russia to the north and the People's Republic of China to the south, east and west. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest city, is home to about 38% of the population. Mongolia's political system is a parliamentary republic.

The area of what is now Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires, including the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Rouran, the Gökturks, and others. The Mongol Empire was founded by Genghis Khan in 1206. After the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols returned to their earlier patterns. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Mongolia came under the influence of Tibetan Buddhism. At the end of the 17th century, most of Mongolia had been incorporated into the area ruled by the Qing Dynasty. During the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Mongolia declared independence, but had to struggle until 1921 to firmly establish de-facto independence, and until 1945 to gain international recognition. As a consequence, it came under strong Russian and Soviet influence: In 1924, the Mongolian People's Republic was declared, and Mongolian politics began to follow the same patterns as Soviet politics of the time. After the breakdown of communist regimes in Eastern Europe in late 1989, Mongolia saw its own Democratic Revolution in early 1990, which led to a multi-party system, a new constitution in 1992, and the - rather rough - transition to a market economy.

At 1,564,116 square kilometres, Mongolia is the nineteenth largest and most sparsely populated independent country in the world, with a population of around 2.9 million people. It is also the world's second-largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. The country contains very little arable land, as much of its area is covered by steppes, with mountains to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. Approximately 30% of the country's 2.9 million people are nomadic or semi-nomadic. The predominant religion in Mongolia is Tibetan Buddhism, and the majority of the state's citizens are of the Mongol ethnicity, though Kazakhs, Tuvans and other minorities also live in the country, especially in the west. About 20% of the population live off less than US$ 1.25 a day.


The Mongol Empire and Genghis Khan

In the chaos of the late twelfth century, a chieftain named Temüjin finally succeeded in uniting the Mongol tribes between Manchuria and the Altai Mountains. In 1206, he took the title Genghis Khan, and waged a series of military campaigns - renowned for their brutality and ferocity - sweeping through much of Asia, and forming the Mongol Empire, the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Under his successors it stretched from present-day Poland in the west to Korea in the east, and from Siberia in the north to the Gulf of Oman and Vietnam in the south.


Two flags said to be associated with Ghenghis Khan