Mongolian knuckle-bone shooting


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Inscribed in 2014 (9.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© 2013 by Ganbat.TS

Mongolians revere certain parts of bones of their domestic livestock and use them in religious rites, plays and traditional games. One such popular team-based game is knuckle-bone shooting. Teams of six to eight players flick thirty domino-like marble tablets on a smooth wooden surface towards a target of sheep knuckle-bones, aiming to knock them into a target zone, while shooters sing traditional knuckle-bone shooting melodies and songs. Each shooter possesses individually crafted shooting tools and instruments, and wears costumes embossed with distinguished characteristics depending on their rank and merits. Team members are tied by close bonds and follow ethical rules of mutual respect and dignity. The rituals, knowledge, skills, technique and expertise associated with knuckle-bone shooting, as well as the craftsmanship of tools, accessories and equipment, are transmitted through apprenticeship. Knuckle-bone shooting provides a favourable environment in which each member contributes to the team’s success, social well-being and development by supporting and learning from others. The tradition brings team members from different backgrounds closer together, encourages their interaction and respect towards elders and one another, and improves their social cohesion.