Inspired by the unique traditions of the Mongolians
Lin Shao, contributing writer
A World of Tradition
“Mongolian Bowls,” a Shen Yun dance performed in 2017, shows us the spirit of hospitality of the nomads who inhabit the Asiatic steppes. Through Shen Yun’s Mongolian ethnic dances, we’re transported to a land of vast grasslands beneath boundless blue skies.
Discovering the diverse traditions and lifestyles of China’s dozens of different ethnic groups is an important part of Shen Yun’s performances. Choreographers faithfully portray the dance styles passed down one generation after another, and each dance celebrates the ethnic group’s unique customs, garb, and traditions.
Living at One with Nature
Mongolians traditionally treated Heaven as their father and Earth as their mother. As they roamed the plains they never stayed in one place for too long. Food and drink, song and dance, and a love of horse riding were central to Mongolian culture. Mongolian dance incorporates movements with arms stretched out, mimicking horse riding and soaring eagles.
It is said that the oldest Mongolian instrument, the Morin Khuur (also known as the horsehead fiddle), was made of horse bones and tails. The Morin Khuur is shaped like the Erhu (the Chinese two-stringed violin), and produces a beautifully expansive and soulful sound that is uniquely Mongolian.
Mongolians have long been renowned for their hospitality. They hold large feasts every year, warmly welcoming anyone and everyone—from nearby tribal members to strangers from afar—and sharing fragrant cups of wine made from horse milk, called airag. Suutei tsai—black tea with cow’s milk, salted and enriched with a spoonful of butter—is another popular beverage of the region. They go above and beyond as gracious hosts, entertaining their guests with horse racing and archery. When spirits are high, they break into dance with chopsticks in hand and bowls balanced on their heads.
Dressing for the Elements: A Mongolian Wardrobe
Braving harsh weather, Mongolians stay protected wearing long gowns with wide sleeves and high collars. Snug hats and sleeveless padded jackets called khaantaz are essential. Traditionally, Mongolian women choose colors that are bright and bold, such as red, pink, green, and sky blue, while men wear tones of blue with brown.
Unique headdresses are a source of joy in a Mongolian woman’s wardrobe. From her headdress you’d get an indication of her age, region, and social status. Many Mongolian headdresses sport custom decorations made from red coral, agate, or turquoise. Though obtaining the stones is a lengthy, expensive process, Mongolian women enjoy collecting them one by one, their headdresses gradually becoming precious masterpieces.
An Inspired Collection
Our brand-new collection is inspired by the Mongolian people’s wealth of unique traditions. Following in the footsteps of Shen Yun’s costume and stage design, we’ve created a range of jewelry, scarves, and housewares, featuring the royal sky-blue and deep emerald-green color palette and Shen Yun’s ornate costuming.
The design of our new “Mongolian Bowls” scarf depicts three dancers carrying bowls of milk tea, as well the characteristic Mongolian headdresses and yurts (circular tents). The symmetrical order and ruyi patterns weave a sense of harmony and unity. You’ll find this motif, which traditionally symbolizes good luck, featured throughout the collection. It represents everything we admire about the Mongolians and their way of life.
We hope this collection brings you a feeling of pure freedom and joy, and reminds you of the bold and rich Mongolian culture, wherever your day might take you.
Very nice indeed.