The seterlekh ceremony is an anti-sacrifice, where an individual animal is liberated from being killed for meat. A blue sash signifies that a seter, or sacred animal, has been dedicated to the eternal sky. The golden-robed lama in this sequence had previously indicated to the herding family that the holy animal was to be a female yak (or sarlag) that was young and dark in coat colour. Only Buddhist monks who have studied specific Tibetan Buddhist texts are allowed to conduct such a ceremony. The herder is asked to speak directly to the cow, making a verbal pact that the family will not kill her and that she must aid as protector. Under everyday circumstances herders do not speak to individual herd animals in Mongolian but use calls and commands specific to the kind of animal. Because this individual has greater power than the average yak cow, it is assumed that she will understand her instructions. The individual cow then functions as protector of both the family and the rest of the herd.
Near the capital of Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, horses and jockeys race in winter temperatures of more than minus 30 degrees Celcius. The child jockeys often have blemishes on their cheeks from frost bite. Horse racing is highly prestigious in Mongolia and is usually held throughout the countryside during the warm and bountiful summer. Winter racing, however, is very different in such harsh and unforgiving conditions.
This is a visual dictionary showing how Mongolian herders vocalise to their herd animals, followed by the response of the herd animal(s). Each inter-title shows the herders’ vocalisation accompanied by the meaning of the vocalisation. The audio of the vocalisation is then repeated with accompanying visual material to give an indication of the context within which a vocalisation occurs.
This segment is an appendix to my book ‘Living with Herds: human-animal co-existence in Mongolia’. There are nine other related segments but they are more interconnected than this stand-alone visual dictionary.
Khangai Herds : Parts 1 to 9 + additional content
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Part 4||Part 5|
|Part 6||Part 7||Part 8||Part 9||Extra content|