...The high crowns of snowcapped mountains shining from star
…Mountains and passes-the source of metals and stone
Ancient structures and ruins of towns and fortresses
…The oceans of sand desert that are dominate the South
The land of open steppes full of fantastic mirages…
Known as “the land of blue sky”,
Mongolian armies’ conquests in the 13th century were based on the art of shooting from horseback; speed was a decisive factor of the victories. There was also a double system of communications throughout the country-the post-stations-for carrying official travelers. This system, much admired by Europeans since the Middle Ages, was hated by the Mongols. Horses had to be provided, somebody had to ride with the message, or to escort the traveler from one station to the next, and bring back the horses. This was world first communication network. The empire of Genghis Khan, who ruled half of the medieval world, could be termed the origin of globalization, and his global network system an archetype of the information-oriented mind.
Nomads, who spend most their life out in the steppe, need to understand much about the microclimate, fauna, soil, and the beneficial influence of water. Some 800 years ago, the great Mongolian “Zasak Law” established the world’s first protected areas and levied heavy fines for logging, grazing or tilling these places. Unfortunatelly, some modern Mongols have lost that respect for nature. The nomads lived in harmony with the ecosystem for thousands of years, giving modern people the tools to live an environmentally friendly life.
Today, public opinion is divided into two camps. From one, nationalistic slogans urge: “Let Mongols remain as Mongols”. This group emphasises the “purity” of Mongolian nomadic heritage and argues against blind acceptance of “westernization”. Modernizers conversely argue that
The “living museum exhibits” of
Mongolia is an isolated Buddhist country located at the meeting point of Orthodox Christian, Islamic and Oriental Confucian civilisation and sandwiched between the two giant neighbours-China and Russia. For centuries Mongolians have striven to maintain their identity, relying on horses for transportation and shamans for guidance. The highest nomadic virtue has been knowledge of travel and readiness to face new challenges. This demands simplification of possessions, skillful collection of information and speed. By contrast, close-minded people did not know how wide the world was. Horizontal, open thinking is taking root in modern society. With the world connected via the Internet, and virtually everyone becoming nomads, cellular phones and laptops have already mass-produced cavalry archers in cyber space, with horses replaced by the Internet. Urban nomads who surf the Internet and the “mobile perspective” can potentially become a part of the mindset of all human beings. Nowadays, with money and information thrown around at the speed of light, borders have less meaning. Civilization lives in a digitalized world, and it is truly a new nomadic period.
The Bridge November 2004