The Xinjiang Mongolians have their own spoken and written language, which is the Oirat dialect of the Mongolian language; it belongs to the Mongolian group of the Altaic Language Family. The writing system used to be “Tuote” but now the “Hudum” system is used instead.
The Xinjiang Mongolians are the offspring of the Oirat Tribe-union. In the mid-18th century, the Qing Court put down the rebellions of Zhunggar Mongols in Ili and reorganized the local Erutes Mongols under the Manchu Eight-Banner system. In 1771, more than 100,000 Turghut Mongols, led by their leader, Khan Wobaxi, returned to China from the Volga River Valley of Tsarist Russia. Their offspring now mainly live in the Bayinguoleng Prefecture, and the Hobukersar and Jinghe Counties. In 1764 and 1813, the Qing Court ordered a group of Chahar Mongols to move from the northern part of Hebei Province to Xinjiang, and now their descendants mainly live in Bole and Wenquan Counties in the Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture.
The Mongols were nomads. Beef, mutton, dairy products and food made of flour constituted their staple food items. They also made “milk wine” with the milk of cows and sheep. Their dress comprised of Mongolian style long gowns. In pastoral areas, the Mongolian herdsmen lived in yurts, which were usually seven to eight feet high and ten feet in diameter. Mongolians believed in Shamanism in ancient times, although after the 16th century, their beliefs gradually began to shift towards the dge-lugs-pa sect of Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism). But traces of Shamanism can still be seen in the everyday folk customs of the Mongolian people.
Jianger, an epic of the Oirat Mongols, is one of the three famous epics in China. The Mongols have traditionally been known as “a people of music and poetry”. The horse-head fiddle is their most favored musical instrument and the “Tuoburshu” or two-string fiddle, is also very popular among the Mongols in Xinjiang. Their most important folk celebration is the Spring Festival. Another interesting celebration is the “Nadam,” a grassland gathering of Xinjiang Mongols, which combines entertainment, sports and shows depicting folklore.
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