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Bürentegüs was a retired border police (hiliin tsagdaa) in Alasha. He was mostly responsible for preventing people from fleeing to Mongolia. In this video, he confirms the existence of three categories of Torghuts in Alasha - Ariin Torghud, Shiliin Torghud and Höh Guyin Torghud, but insists that they are all same, distinguished only by where they live. He also talks about Torghut customs in Alsha, saying that Torghuts in Bayan Nurgan practice strict exogamy. The locals have a saying: “Nagatstaigaa suuval nalaitla bayajna; zeetegee suuval zel hoosorno” – if you marry a maternal relative, you will get really rich; but if you marry a paternal relative, you will lose everything.
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Parz is a traditional Torghut chess game, which has been revived in recent years. In this video, Sojid, and elderly Torghut lady, explains the rule of the game.
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Orshil claims that he is one of the descendants of Galdan Boshugt Khan. In this interview, he mentions several new Oirat surnames that have emerged in Bayan Nurgan: Jin (金) for Ööld, Yangjia (杨家) for Hoid, Sijia (四家) for Dörbet and Duanjia (缎家) for Torghut.Orshil also explains in detail the immigrants and their integration into the Alasha Mongolian community. Bagtamal is someone who has joined the family (obogt bagtah) as a formal member, whereas Budachin is one who works for a family to get food for survival. He says that tens and thousands of Han Chinese fled from Shaanxi province and Gansu province to Alasha in 1960, and the Mongols adopted those poor Han Chinese as bagtamal and budachin.
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This video is about the life experience of two extended families of the Dashdawa Mongols in Chengde: Zhao and Du. Du Jinsheng’s grandfather was called Du Batu and was a member of the Bordered Blue Banner (镶蓝旗). Zhao Zhixun says his ancestors worked as tomb guards (看堆子). Both of them were sent to Inner Mongolia to work at the newly built Baotou steel industry in 1957. They recall that when they were children, all the monasteries in Chengde were open to them; they only needed to say that ‘we are from the Mongol Camp (蒙古营的)’. Nowadays, however, they do not have any privilege to go into any monasteries. Besides, they say that there are no Dashdawa Mongol lamas. Most of the Mongol lamas are from Inner Mongolia. They also say that they are Mongols on ID cards only, because they are no different from the Han Chinese in terms of language and culture. Mixed marriages are also normal, because they do not distinguish Mongolians, Manchu or Han Chinese anymore. They have some misgivings about the government demolition of their home in the Mongol Camp. They think the government did it for the purpose of carrying out their campaign called ‘Big Change in Three Years’ (三年大变样). They recall that about 52 trucks came to the spot along with an ambulance in case anyone would get hurt in protect. In the end, the government made a contract with the people who lived in the Mongol Camp. It contained a clause promising that the residents could move into a new building within 22 months. However, they say that they have already lived in rented houses for six years, and the government provides them only 2,000 yuan per year per family as subsidies. They are pessimistic that they will ever live in new apartments, because the government no longer allows construction of new residential buildings in Chengde since it is now designated as a tourist city.
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Tömörochir used to be a camel herder in Ejine. In this interview, he talks about the camel reins that he makes for sale. He says that his parents had 4 camels and about 15 goats when he was a child. Likewise, ordinary Torghuts in Ejine were also very poor in the past and the number of animals increased only in the last few decades. Tömörochir adds that herders made camel tools in the past, but today people purchase them from shops. Tools made by Tömörochir are now so much valued that the government keeps some on display in the Ejine county museum.
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The video shows Torghuts in the Ejine banner centre doing a series of rehearsals for the celebration of the Chagaan Sar – the lunar new year. Most of them are recent migrants and their most important pastime nowadays is practising traditional cultural heritage. Dawa established the Topshur Association in 2009 with nine members in their 30s and 40s. He says topshur tradition had disappeared among the Ejine Torghuts by then, so they invited teachers from Bayangol of Xinjiang every year at the beginning. The association now has a membership of 400 people and they regularly organise competition with the Alasha League College of Arts. In the future, they plan to broaden the association membership throughout Inner Mongolia and beyond. For this purpose, he has already contacted Jangar Epic teachers in Xinjiang.
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This video contains some interesting details about the history of the Ejine Torghuts. After their settlement in Ejine almost 300 years ago, Torghut nobles took wives mostly from the Halh Mongols. Yonghong says that although traditional Torghut clothes have been preserved very well, the Torghuts in Ejine have lost many of their culture, for instance, the Jangar epic and the Savardan dance. Torghuts used to herd horses, cattle and sheep, but today camels and goats predominate. In everyday life, once can see some differences between the Torghuts and the Halh. The Torghut yurt, for example, is taller than the Halh version. The Torghuts are mostly Buddhist, though some also believe in shamanism. There are three monasteries in Ejine: Dashchoilin, Janchinamjil, and Dambadarjia, the last of which being a Halh monastery built in the 1930s. Today, lamas can marry and have children, and they live in their own homes, only coming to monasteries for chanting on certain days.
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This video features a herding Torghut family with a house at the Ejine banner centre. Batuzandan is a painter who paints Torghut patterns on furniture. His wife Tsetseg looks after their sheep and goats. Their son, who majored in painting at university, is planning to open his workshop in Ejine.Tsetseg sets out early in the morning by motorcycle to the countryside where she herds their goat and sheep flocks and comes back home after sunset. She says that they have fenced their land for many years, and they are suitable for herding in different seasons. Except for springtime, they mostly live in the banner centre and go back to the pasture once every two days in summer to provide water. She also talks about the government initiated development project called ‘ten complete covers’ (M. araviig bürheh; C. shige quan fugai) in the countryside, and is worried that their old shed will be pulled down soon. Due to the drop of market prices of meat and cashmere, the couple has been forced to rent out part of their land to some Han Chinese for cantaloupe cultivation over the last few years. Cantaloupe is used to feed animals in wintertime. Tsetseg complains that Han Chinese are too dirty as they litter loads of plastic bags every year which she has to clean up. If not for money, she says, they would certainly not rent out their land to the Han Chinese.
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This video shows that representatives from five Dashdawa Mongol surname groups – Bai, Kou, Xu, Du, Zhao – get together and talk about their memory of their ancestors in Chengde, the Ööld Mongols. These are close relatives.In the past, they say that Ööld Mongols in Chengde wore Mongolian dresses on importance occasions. They used to live in the Mongol Camp (蒙古营) which is also known as the Ööld Camp (厄鲁特营); the former name was used by the Chinese and the Manchu to refer to them, whereas the Dashdawa Mongols called their residence Ööld Camp. Kou Zixin says that he lived in the Mongol Camp until he was 10, and his grandfather was the head of the Mongol Camp. Kou Tianqing remembers that his grandfather had a Mongolian name called Bayanhu, but he adopted the surname Kou during the Republican period. Zhao Huiyan also remembers that her grandparents used to say, ‘we do not belong to the eight banners, we are from the Ili river’. It is clear from the video that they all know they are the descendants of the Dashdawa Mongols originally hailing from Xinjiang, but they do not know too much about details of their history.
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This video shows Wang Yanhong explaining the Dashdawa Mongol history to the representatives of five Dashdawa Mongol surname groups. He says that initially, about 1,000 Ööld people arrived at Chengde in 1757, followed by another group two years later, the same year when the Anyuan monastery in Chengde was built. Some years later, however, about 500 people were dispatched to Xinjiang to protect the Qing-Russian border areas.
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