Date: Between July and August every year
Place: Inner Mongolia
Activities: Nadam means 'entertainment or game' in Mongolian and Nadam Fair is the annual traditional pageant for Mongolians held in summer during which period the grass is green and the livestock stout and strong. In history, Nadam Fair was held for large-scale sacrificial activities and to pray for blessings from Manito. Now, activities like wrestling, horseracing, and archery (the three skills all Mongolian men should master) are the primary role of the fair. Besides, track and field sports, tug-of-war, basketball and volleyball matches are relatively new additions making the fair even more interesting. The fair finishes with a bonfire party during the night when the young people singing and dancing.
Nadam, which means entertainment or games in Mongolian, is regarded as a great festival. It is held every August, when the livestock is fat and strong. Nadam, in fact, is a large entertainment gathering for celebrating the harvest.
Wrestling performed in a Nadam Fair
Folk-style dancing and singing is performed during the Nadam as Mongolians are good at dancing and singing. The Fuxin Mongolian Autonomous County is reputed as the Land of Folk Songs. There are hundreds of singers, who are not only able to sing but also compose. Entertainment programs include Haolaibao, comic dialogues, antistrophic singing and performances by horse-head lute, Yataghan Dance Wine Cup Dance, etc.
Feat on horseback performed in a Nadam Fair
At the fair, men and women, old or young, dress up and participate, or watch from cars or on horses. Other entertainment includes horseracing, wrestling, archery and dancing and singing. The Mongolians in Liaoning Province commonly dress in Han costumes, i.e. uniforms or civvies. During the event of the Nadam or other festivals, they put on long Mongolian gowns, but they prefer red, yellow and blue costumes. Five-colored ribbons are inlaid on the shoulder and front of the gown with red and green silk bands at the waist. They wear boots and usually have a sword with a scabbard, snuffbox and sickle at the waist.
The Nadam is also known as a fair of agricultural and livestock goods. Apart from the industry and farming sideline products, there are also other local special goods, such as beef and mutton, fumed food, cheese, dried cheese, cream, milk curd and yoghurt. Ghee tea and baked full mutton are also supplied at the tea booths and restaurants. Since the staple Mongolian diet generally consists of cereals and vegetables, the Nadam provides them with a chance to enjoy Mongolian traditional rich dishes.
The Nadam Fair is a traditional activity of the Mongolian ethnic group in China. It is derived from Mongol ancestors' custom of riding and shooting and wrestling which was formed in the nomadic life. The word "Nadam" in Mongolian is a joint term of Mongolian-type wrestling, riding and shooting. The Nadam Fair falls on the fourth day of the sixth lunar month (between July and August in solar calendar), and people of any ethnic groups and religions are allowed to participate in.
The Nadam Fair can be traced back to the initial stage of the Mongol Empire. In order to pray for and celebrate a good harvest as well as inspect the army, Genghis Khan convened annual gathering of clan leaders and conducted contest of shooting, horse racing or wrestling. By the late Qing Dynasty, Nadam had evolved into a recreational activity which was regularly held by the government. This festival has been handed down till now, with that held on Xilinguole Grassland being the most famous.
During Nadam Fair, herdsmen will, after dressing themselves up, head for the meeting place on the Mongolian grassland on horseback or in carriage. A great deal of tents are scattered in the meeting place where the contest of polo and horsemanship as well as track and field are held in the daytime other than the traditional events (riding, shooting and wrestling). Meanwhile, material exchanging meeting and commendation meeting are held here. After the night falls, rich and colorful theatrical performances are given, bustling with noise and excitement.
- Major Festivals of Ethnic Minorities in China
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