Heritage of Russian-Mongolian collaboration

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The Mongolian and the Baikal regions are geographical neighbors and even relatives, if to remember about Mongolian origin of Buryat people. The fact that long ago Mongols knew about the existence of Lake Baikal and visited its shores is explained historically. First, ages ago migrant tribes of Mongols, undoubtedly, came tothe Baikal region. We can say that they were the forefathers of some contemporary Buryat kins (especially Selengiskie Buryats). There is evidence that Mongols visited Baikal in an organized manner. The legend that exists on Olkhon Island tells about warriors of Ghengiskhan who encamped on one of the capes. Second, as legends say, ancestors of Chingiskhan roamed from one place to another in Barguzin valley, that is why he called it a sacred land of ancestors. Everyone who visits Barguzin region knows that the main path lies mainly along the Baikal shores. Third, in the northwest of Mongolia there is a natural counterpart of Baikal, lake Khubsugul. The lakes have numerous similar landscapes, therefore they are considered as relatives in Mongolian mythology. The myth has a real prototype: the Egiin Gol river flows out of Khubsugul and falls into the Selenga river, the main Baikal tributary. Thus, in such a way Khubsugul waters flow into the sacred sea. There is a supposition that Baikal and Khubsugul (as well as Baikal and Gusinoe (Goose) Lake in Buryatia) are connected by deep underground channels - splits that are like communicating vessels. Only time will show if it is true or not. However, upon the whole, 2/3 drainage basin of the main Baikal tributary is located on the Mongolian territory. It is where a water flow of about 15 cubic meters per year or 40-50% of river flow is formed.

Among Buryats living on Baikal shores one can hear legends about Chinghiskhan’s stay near Lake Baikal, which was called in ancient times Lake Tengiz. Barguzin land and Olkhon Island are considered the main places Chingiskhans visited. According to the legends, his grandmother was born and brought up in Barguzin region. It is believed that he visited the shores of Chivyrkuisky Bay in about 50 km from the mouth of the Barguzin river, where he admired the richness of water resources and taiga. The legend says that at the entrance to the bay he put his guards, two brothers-warriors Kiltigeys to guard the places untill he returned from his campains. But the brothers didn’t wait till their commander came and turned into two islands in the pearl of Baikal, Chivyrkuisky Bay. (In fact, there is a Buryat word “heltigei” (“slant, inclined hill” ), which stands for a number of islands or capes having a typical slope onto one side and “upturned” shores on the other side.

There are also legends saying that the famous Mongolian fighter with his warriors crossed Baikal. It has become known from written and oral sources that he passed it without wetting his feet. It is doubtful that some necks of the land existed at the lake (not so much time passed since then). However, it is probable that he could pass the lake on “dry foot” on ice in late winter or in early spring, for example, using the route: the mouth of the Barguzin river - the northeast shore of Olkhon. However, with a Baikal experinced aboriginal the best way to do it would be by the route: Listvennichnyi Island to the environs of Izhimey cape – this trip might be of about 40 km. One of the Buryat legends says that Chingiskhan once encamped on the shore of the island, since then a big trivet and a pot with a mare’s head have been kept there. One of the island capes is called Mare’s Head Cape (“Kobyliya golova”). Russian writer and traveler V. Burlak stood up for the idea that the Mongolian warrior was buried on this island.

On the wall of Irkutsk State Pedagogical University, which is in Suhe-Batora Street, there is a memorial tablet with the following inscription: “Suhe-Bator. 1893-1923. The founder of the revolutionary party and people’s revolutionary state. He lived and studied in Irkutsk in 1920”. In fact, in the summer of 1920 Suhe-Bator arrived in Irkutsk through Kyakhta and Verkhneudinsk to attend The Red Comissars’ School. Apart from studies,he was appointed a commander as a Mongolian military expert. In the banks of the Angara river Suhe-Bator trained Red Army soldiers to lead a fight with cavalry swords and to surmount different barriers.

Mongolian revolutionaries lived in Irkutsk for about 4 months. However, in late autumn, when the situation in Mongolia worsened, Suhe-Bator with his friends went to frontier regions. The first congress of the Mongolian People’s party took place in a Russian frontier settlement Troitskosavsk (now Kyakhta) on 1 March, 1921. Later this party took power in their hands and founded the Mongolian People’s Republic.

During the Soviet period Mongolia was closely connected with Russia and the Baikal region. Close and friendly relations favored the development of economy and culture in these countries. There was a lot of collaboration in the field of ecology. Neighbors should live, constantly helping each other. Many actions of the government, the scientific community and the businessmen are targeted at the collaboration between the countries.

Our neighbor has impressive examples of effective ecological traditions. The capital of Mongolia, Ulan-Bator is located near Bogdo-Ula mountain (‘bogdo’ means sacred, “ula” - a mountain). Two branches of the narrow Tiula river run here, separating the city from the mountain in the south. Bogdo-Ula rises by 900km above the river valley, but its true altitude is 2215 metres.

A legislative act of 1809 annonced the mountain reserved. However, it has been revered as sacred (“bogdo”) for a long time, apparently since the foundation of Ulan-Bator (Urga) - since 1649. A legend says that Ghingiskhan was hiding from his enemies on the mountain. It helped him to hide when the enemies unsuccessfully tried to find Chingiskhan in the thick forest. When his pursuers went away, Chingiskhan climbed down the Tola river, made a sacrifice and entrusted his children and grandchildren with reverence and sacrificial offering to the mountain. In fact, according to P.K. Kozlov, the ceremony of an annual sacrifice existed in the beginning of the XXth century. Today the reserve has an area of 36600 hectares, 18800 of them are covered with forest. It has been guarded well for a long time. The entrance into each fold is permanently guarded and impossible to pass without a permission. However, there are few cases when people violate the rules of nature protection here. The Mongolians love and revere the beautiful Bogda-Ula.

The mountain had been the sole protected area in the Mongolian People’s Republic until 1975. In 1995 the State Great Hural of Mongolia passed the Nature Reserve Protection Act that clearly differentiates among reserves, national parks, nature sanctuaries and natural monuments. Mongolia has created new conservation areas, widened the area of already existing reserves, approved the natural reserve boundaries and reinforced the work of guards. Nowadays Mongolia has 12 natural reserves, 18 National parks, 19 sanctuaries, 5 natural monuments. All these measures helped the fact that rare animals which had disappeared in other countries have been kept in Mongolia, for example, the Przewalski's horse and the wild camel. Only in Mongolia such animals as Asiatic wild ass, zeren, goitered gazelle, bear – pischuhoed, snow leopard are regarded to be ordinary species. The stony desert-gamada is the Zaaltaiskaya Gobi with diversifolious cottonwoods where many above-listed animals live. This desert is of a great scholarly interest. Mongolia will soon start to construct a big natural reserve with an area of 4 million hectares, which will be of great importance for conservation and exploration of the Central Asia nature.

These examples are undoubtedly useful for those who is trying to help protect Baikal flora and fauna, bearing in mind that water protection zone of Baikal can unofficially be expanded to the neighboring territory and there be 40% of drainage area of the Sacred Sea upon the whole. First of all, it refers to the Selenga river and its tributaries. There are a lot of promising ways for collaboration in this area. Especially important for our region are the projects connected with the development of tourist routes “Baikal - Hursugul”. There are some tourist routes passing through the Irkutsk region, the Republic of Buryatia and the Mongolian Republic. However, the possibilities of lake-brothers are still to be discovered. 

See also


  1. A.D. Karnyshev "The Many Faces of Multilingual and Mysterious Baikal"© BSU Publishing House, 2011

Выходные данные материала:

Жанр материала: English | Автор(ы): Karnyshev A.D. | Источник(и): The Many Faces of Multilingual and Mysterious Baikal. Ulan-Ude. 2012 | Дата публикации оригинала (хрестоматии): 2011 | Дата последней редакции в Иркипедии: 30 марта 2015

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Тематический указатель: Irkipedia English