Monday, 15 October 2007

The Camel Mother’s Trial

Mongolian people have always been very fond of their animals. They have created a special language to communicate with animals. The tone of the voice may vary from command to fondle. These sounds help animals to become accustomed to different sounds and melodies.

Every significant event in the life of the Mongolian herdsmen is accompanied by music and songs. The herders have learnt to perform a suitable melody for each kind of animal. Amongst the animals which they raise, horses, cattle, camels, goats and sheep, the camel is the most calm the best tempered and the most affectionate animal. The camel has the best musical sense, because they are the most emotional ones.

The most interesting case is when the mother camel rejects and refuses to suckle it’s new-born, then only music is able to soften the mother and permit the baby to suckle for the first time. The last few days before a female camel gives birth, her behaviour is unpredictable. She prefers to give birth alone, so she runs away to a remote place apart from her herd. The two-humped Mongolian camel’s birth is very painful.

As a baby camel is a most loveable pretty thing, it is impossible to understand for what reason the female camel sometimes rejects and refuses to suckle its baby. The pitiful small baby camel’s eyes are full of tears, following its mother. The baby is also in danger of starving to death. The mother appears depressed. The mother camel stands alone in the pastureland, looking from side to side, like a person who is lost in thought. Because she is also suffering and eating nothing, she soon loses her former looks. How capricious female camels are!

The ceremony, that should unite baby and mother camel is called “hoesloh”. It makes place at the most peaceful time of the day, before beginning or after finishing the day’s activities, when no noise could disturb a melody. The herdsman’s wife starts to sing a song and play the musical instrument “morin khuur”. The two-string horse-head violin - “morin khuur” is the main and most popular musical instrument in Mongolia for accompanying traditional songs.

The verse of this song is to persuade and beg the mother camel to suckle as if she is a thinking creature. The tune of the melody exactly fits the gait of a camel. This is slow, sad and very peculiar music. After a certain time of performance the camel mother’s body starts to shake and you might say that the camel is crying, and her eyes fill with big tears. The mother approaches her baby and sniffs it. The camel mother looks so embarrassed and remorseful. The baby camel makes a timid attempt to suckle. The mother finally recognizes the baby and permits it to suckle.

When some baby camels are orphaned, the baby is adopted by a new mother in this same way. In addition, a baby camel may have to take a cold shower to remote the dead mother’s smell.

IWAP magazine The Bridge July/August 2003

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