Mongolian swan songs

By Wang Kaihao ( China Daily ) Updated: 2013-11-14 08:19:05

Mongolian swan songs

Singing has been an indelible part of life for Mongolian people who always have music on their lips and in their hearts. Provided to China Daily

Mongolian swan songs

Huagu Opera performed at Cultural Festival

Mongolian swan songs

Dongba papermaking craft in Lijiang
It's a beautiful song known at every campfire around which Mongolians gather. Wang Kaihao looks at the stories behind the Urad ballads, and also the threatened crafts in Bayannur, Inner Mongolia, that are slowly disappearing.

For Mongolians everywhere, the nostalgic lyrics of the Swan Goose ballad is most often sung at the dinner table when it is time to propose a toast.

"When the goblet is empty, make it full again. No one returns home tonight until everyone is happily drunk " - the words best reflect the spirit behind Mongolian hospitality and outlook.

For members of the tribe of Urad, however, the lightheartedness is tinged with the bittersweet, especially in the western city of Bayannur in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, where the song originated more than 200 years ago.

Narantogos, 68, is a veteran ballad singer living in Urad Middle Banner, a county-level administrative district along the Sino-Mongolian border. Though she moved into town more than 10 years ago, the memories of her home on the great grasslands still haunt her.

"The Urad ballad is rooted in our daily life when we herd sheep," she says. "The lyrics are often impromptu, and flow from our minds. We sing for the grassland and what we see in nature."

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