Traditional technique of making Airag in Khokhuur and its associated customs


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Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Semuun, 2015

Traditional technique of making Airag in Khokhuur and its associated customs includes the traditional method of making airag – a fermented beverage made from mare’s milk – and the related equipment, such as the khokhuur (cowhide vessel), buluur (paddle) and khovoo (kibble), associated with the social customs and rituals. The basic airag-making technique consists of milking the mares, cooling the fresh milk, and repeatedly churning it inside the khokhuur – over 500 times – with starter left inside to assist fermentation. The khokhuur and related equipment are made by individuals with centuries-old knowledge and skills, and the skills required for preparing and maintaining the yeast are also particularly important. A nutritious and easily digestible beverage, airag is an important part of the daily diet of Mongolians and has also been proven to be effective for curing certain diseases. It also plays an essential role as a symbolic beverage in the daily lives of herders and various social celebrations: airag is used and served as a key holy drink during various fests and in offerings and ritual blessings. Bearers and practitioners inherit the related traditional practices and knowledge from their parents, which has kept the tradition alive for thousands of years.