Sunday, September 2, 2018

Photography Tour, Naadam Games at Three Camel Lodge, Gobi Desert, Mongolia: September 1, 2018

Mongolian Wrestling Competitors doing the Eagle's Dance
Well, it did rain most of the night and the next morning causing the mini Naadam Games to be canceled because it would be too dangerous for the horses to race. Around noon, the weather cleared and the wrestlers and archers who were at the games site, were invited to come to Three Camel Lodge and put on an exhibition.

In Mongolia the traditional "manly sports" are wrestling, archery and horse racing. Mongolian wrestling is a folk wrestling. This is not the Olympic style of wrestling. In this sport, if anything touches the ground except your feet, you lose. Also, there are no weight classes, age limits, or time limits.

Wrestlers pull on a heavy pair of wool socks, wrap from foot to mid calf with a length of fabric, and then pull on sturdy leather boots with a turned up toe.



They wear a shirt which leaves the chest exposed. The story goes that long, long ago before this open-fronted shirt was part of the uniform, a person no one knew won all the matches in the wrestling competition. Because the winner was thought to be a woman who had breached the manly sport of wrestling, the traditional wrestling uniform now requires that the chest be exposed.

Before the wrestling match begins, the wrestlers perform the "eagle's dance" symbolizing power and invincibility. The winner of each match repeats the eagle's dance.

Mongolian Wrestling has no weight classes




Sometimes, the smaller wrestler is mightier than his larger opponent. The guy holding the hat is a Zasuul which is both an on field coach and a cheerleader offering tips and encouragement.


The current president of Mongolia, Khaltmaagiin Battulga, won the 1989 Mongolian Wrestling World Cup championship.

The next "manly" sport we watched was Archery. The distance between the archer and a small round leather target depends on age and gender.

Men stand 75 meters away
Women stand 65 meters away
Boys stand 55 meters away
Girls stand 45 meters away

The compound bows used by today's archers are made from wood, horn, and sinew.




 The master archer, a woman, offered some instruction to Dan. He hit the target 3 out of 4 shots.




Our last dinner was out at the Flaming Cliffs located on the edge of Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park. In the 1920s and expedition led by Dr. Roy Chapman Andrews with his team from the American Museum of Natural History hoped to find human remains to support a theory that humans migrated out of Asia and not Africa. Instead they found the world's first nest of dinosaur eggs and bones of dinosaurs some not found anywhere else. Skeletons of the Protoceratops, Oviraptor, Velociraptor, and Therizinosaurus from the late Cretaceous period were found here.

A dinosaur bone in the sandstone



The pre-dinner entertainment was by a school that specializes in teaching Mongolian cultural arts.



Unfortunately, the wind came up just as we were sitting down to dinner at the Flaming Cliffs. This masked woman is photographer Alison Wright wearing her dinner napkin for protection from the sandstorm. Dinner was delicious even with a little sand in it.


Back at the Three Camel Lodge, the wind was calm.


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