Mongol Biyelgee, Mongolian traditional folk dance

Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© 2009 by Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO
The Mongol Biyelgee – Mongolian Traditional Folk Dance is performed by dancers from different ethnic groups in the Khovd and Uvs provinces of Mongolia. Regarded as the original forebear of Mongolian national dances, Biyelgee dances embody and originate from the nomadic way of life. Biyelgee dances are typically confined to the small space inside the ger (nomadic dwelling) and are performed while half sitting or cross-legged. Hand, shoulder and leg movements express aspects of Mongol lifestyle including household labour, customs and traditions, as well as spiritual characteristics tied to different ethnic groups. Biyelgee dancers wear clothing and accessories featuring colour combinations, artistic patterns, embroidery, knitting, quilting and leather techniques, and gold and silver jewellery specific to their ethnic group and community. The dances play a significant role in family and community events such as feasts, celebrations, weddings and labour-related practices, simultaneously expressing distinct ethnic identities and promoting family unity and mutual understanding among different Mongolian ethnic groups. Traditionally, Mongol Biyelgee is transmitted to younger generations through apprenticeships or home-tutoring within the family, clan or neighbourhood. Today, the majority of transmitters of Biyelgee dance are elderly, and their numbers are decreasing. The inherent diversity of Mongol Biyelgee is also under threat as there remain very few representatives of the distinct forms of Biyelgee from different ethnic groups.

Periodic reporting

A. Cover sheet

A.1. State Party

Mongolia

A.2. Date of deposit of the instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession

29-06-2005

A.3. Element inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List that is the subject of this report

Name of element

Mongol Biyelgee: Mongolian traditional folk dance

Inscribed in

2009

A.4. Reporting period covered by this report

2009 - 2013

A.5. Other elements inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List, if any

Mongol Tuuli, Mongolian epic
Mongol Biyelgee, Mongolian traditional folk dance
Traditional music of the Tsuur
Performance of the Mongolian epic of Jangar
Mongolian traditional Cham dance
Folk long song performance technique of Limbe performances - circular breathing
Mongolian traditional practices of the worshipping of sacred sites
Mongolian calligraphy
Coaxing ritual for camel calves
The art of steel carving
Mongolian traditional practices of worshipping the sacred sites
Mongolian calligraphy
Mongolian Traditional Cham Dance
Coaxing ritual for camels

A.6. Executive summary of the report

Mongol Biyelgee is an outstanding form among the traditional performing arts of Mongolia. It is a peaceful expression of ethnicity and identity and promotes and strengthens mutual understanding among different Mongolian ethnic groups. Mongols transmit aesthetic and physical upbringing through Biyelgee , thus significance and function of biyelgee among Mongols is broad and diverse in terms of its breadth and importance.
Tightly linked to Mongolian traditional customs, mentality and language, the Biyelgee supports and encourage community well-being and happiness, while providing an essential factor for sustainable development, and a peaceful and tranquil life.
Therefore, between 2009-2014 Mongolian Government has decreed and implemented with success a National Safeguarding Plan of the "Mongolian traditional folk dance: Biyelgee" :
Objectives
The aim of the project is to revitalize and safeguard and transmit the Biyelgee.
The objectives are to:
• Strengthen the research and establish registration-information database through a field-survey focusing on the current state of biyelgee;
• Improving the viability of the biyelgee by training new generation of performers, while also reviving traditional method of apprenticeship-training;
• Improving the capacity-building of the bearers, concerned NGOs, community-based organizations and professionals by involving in safeguarding measures;
• Raise the awareness among general public through production of media and;
During the report period following protection activities accomplished by the Government body, local government body and NGOs:
- Organized local and nationwide competitions among the Biyelgee dancers and bearers. Also evaluated their ability, repertory and granted and glorified them as disseminating their knowledge. It is very important to signal the grand evolution in their repertory and capacity.
- Accomplished the project of training apprenticeship based on traditional teaching method of senior dancer's experiences in order to strengthen and support the bearers and community's heritage and knowledge to be transmitted to the future generations. Since then the Biyelgee dancer and apprentice's number has increased. Since the inscription of the element on the UNESCO List of ICH, bearers and communities are more sensitive to transmit their knowledge,
Overall effectiveness:
- The local and governmental organizations, communities and bearers are more involved in its development projects
- The public participation has increased.
- The fact that we are promoting the Biyelgee to the public, bearers are acknowledged by Mongolian people and it helped to rise their social status. Also it attracts the younger generation to interest the art of Mongolian traditional folk dance Biyelgee to study and research subjects.
- Many Unions and Associations have been created and organizes relevant activities in order to safeguard and protect the Biyelgee.
- It is very interesting to observe the need of this heritage in everyday life of Mongolians. Because Biyelgee is very demanded and present on every folk performing stages, in tourism sector, TV recording and on research subject. It became a very interesting heritage and continue to develop even more.
- The inscription of the element in the UNESCO Urgent needs of safeguarding List of ICH has pulled its development even faster than the other ICH elements. So then, we might say that its safeguarding measures are more advanced compared to others that insure its sustainability.

A.7. Contact person for correspondence

Title (Ms/Mr, etc.)

Mr

Family name

Jargalsaikhan

Given name

Tsoodol

Institution/position

Head of the ICH division

Address

Center for Cultural Heritage, Cultural Palace B, Sukhbaatar square 3, Sukhbaatar District, Ulaanbaatar 210620a, Mongolia

Telephone number

+976-11-312735

Fax number

E-mail address

tsjargalsaikhan@monheritage.mn; ichfr@monheritage.mn

Other relevant information

B. Status of element inscribed on the urgent safeguarding list

B.1. Social and cultural functions

The “Biyelgee” represents not only a performing art form but also has its own role in festivity, tradition and customs. It's function also associated in the creative industry and the craftsmanship. Because Mongolian people dance the “Biyelgee” during feasts, weddings, family or work related ceremonies to share their joy and fortune.
“Biyelgee” is executed in traditional costumes depending on their ethnic origin. Each ethnic group has their own manner of dress-making and ornamentation. Thus has very specific colors, patterns, design and way of wearing. It also includes variety of craft arts categories; sewing, embroidery, leather-making and gold, silver smiting. These craft arts are very specific and rare Mongolian craftsman’s products sometimes only made for “Biyelgee” wearing. It also represent the particular knowledge and treasure of its community. Nowadays this tradition of wearing such specific costumes is only conserved in “Biyelgee” custom. Besides, with the help of “Biyelgee”, Ekil musical instrument (ancestor of the Morin khuur) has been conserved and played till today without interruption. Thus we can confirm that they protected and developed each other mutually.
Thus confirm the role of the “Biyelgee”in everyday life social and cultural functions that show how this heritage became the pillar of the community and its identity.
As the “Biyelgee” is performed during happy events, it also interlinked with Mongolian language, tradition and psychology, that guarantees its sustainable positive impact associated with happiness.
As the “Biyelgee” has such a good impact to gather and allow the communities to dialogue and respect each other’s diversity, we can say that this element fit perfectly with the goal to sustainable development objectives. We can also consider that the “Biyelgee” is not only the living root of Mongolian dance art but also has contributed in the cultural heritage of humanity by its safeguarding role.
Within Mongolia, Khalkha Mongols constitute almost four-fifth of the population of about 2,8 million, while the other Mongolian groups – including Dorvod, Buryat, Bayad, Torguud, Khotgoid and Dariganga, account for about one-eight of the population. From within these ethnic groups of Torguud, Zakhchin, Oold, Uriankhai and Myangad in Khovd province who have continued to keep the original tradition of the Biyelgee dance until today.

B.2. Assessment of its viability and current risks

The inscription of the element on the UNESCO Urgent Safeguarding List of ICH has pulled its development even faster than the other ICH elements. So then, we might say that its safeguarding measures are more advanced compared to others that insure its sustainability. Since the inscription of the element on the UNESCO List of ICH, bearers and communities are more sensitive to transmit their knowledge, the local and governmental organizations are more involved in its development projects and the public participation has increased. Also it attracts the younger generation to interest the art of Mongolian traditional folk dance Biyelgee to study and research on this subject. Thus may allow us to consider this heritage being out of danger to vanish but there's still the necessity to give attention on certain issues.
We may say today that this heritage has been transferred since 50 years from herders household to the concert podium. We must promote and develop its activity in its context associated with herder's customs and traditions. Give him back its honored and respected position and reinforce its social and community functions. This intangible cultural heritage have to survive in this worldwide era by innovating itself incessantly, however we shouldn't leave its root tradition behind.
It is very important to safeguard and develop Biyelgee in both environments, we have to follow the new technology for its professional development and create new spaces to practice while equalizing its protection.
It is also very important to be aware that Biyelgee should not become a tool to entertain tourists and money earning activity that waste its traditional context and customs.
Even if the government takes considerable measures to safeguard this heritage in its original form, the high ages of bearers, urbanism, environmental context and non adapted apprenticeship systems tend to give negative impact on its folk root.
There's also a high possibility to standardization of this art form.

B.3. Implementation of safeguarding measures

B.3a. Objectives and results

The Government set following purposes during the reporting time in order to protect and keep the “Biyelgee” traditions. These are:
-To study, protect, develop and enrich the Mongolian traditional folk art of “Biyelgee”.
-To increase “Biyelgee” bearers and practitioners value and promote in the society and emphasize them
-To transmit the art of “Biyelgee” to the next generation and to increase and improve the number of its teaching and apprenticeships
-To increase the “Biyelgee” audiences, rise the public awareness, understanding and participation in the society.
Outcomes
- Database had been created from registration and documentation materials gathered during Filed survey. This database is to be enriched and improved year by year basis even beyond the completion of the Project
- The traditional apprenticeship method will have restored. By enlarging the professional and apprentice training of the “Biyelgee”, practitioners number has considerably increased
- The Government with support of related NGO’s organized local and nationwide competitions among the Biyelgee practitioners and inheritors. Also evaluated their ability and repertory and granted and glorified them as disseminating their work. These competitions had a positive impact to study and disseminate epic stories and encouraged the ones on the field and helped them to be proud of the special heritage that they are inherited. They got more motivated to study more about the biyelgee of their previous generations.
- Interlinked traditional knowledge and ICH elements such as; traditional costumes craftsmanship, the musical instruments called "Ekil" and "Togshuur" practices are very connected to practice the “Biyelgee”, their practices been developed in parallel.
- Increase of the involvement, initiative and participation of the local government, public motivation and state organizations for protection and transmission activities of the “Biyelgee”.
- In order to increase Biyelgee performers value in the society and glorify them the Government registered them in the National list of the talented people who inherited ICH in high level and prized them with money and certificate. Since “Biyelgee” practitioners won important social and cultural values, we can consider that the Mongolian traditional folk dance “Biyelgee” is out of danger.
- Also some television programs made on the same topic and many interviews, articles and news about Biyelgee published on newspapers, magazines and websites. It was a part of dissemination work and it helped to improve the social awareness and value about the Biyelgee.
Challenges:
There are less senior bearers as the time flows, and the teaching method is not in the traditional and environmental context of each specific folk biyelgee. It has created a tendency to gather all biyelgee dancers and sharing experiences that mixes their knowledge. Which became a negative impact on conservation of the specific local folk biyelgee by creating new national tendencies.

B.3b. Safeguarding activities

2009-2014 Mongolian Government has decreed and implementing successfully a National Safeguarding Plan of the "Mongolian traditional folk dance: “Biyelgee” in the objectives to safeguard, develop, transmit the element to the next generation by training and apprenticeship, emphasize and support the “Biyelgee” bearers. During the implementation of the National Plan relevant state and non-state parties, communities, practitioners have been involved actively and contributed an important role.
Activities
A: Field study and inventorying
- A field survey were undertaken to focus on the current state of Epic, its repertoire and associated customs and rituals
B. Safeguarding and Transmission
- National artists and volunteers have gathered together to create sustainable cultural activities which established several organizations; "Union of Mongolian folk art-“Biyelgee” ", "Union of folk dance “Biyelgee” transmission" and "Union of heritage treasure". These organization's main activities are linked to develop and safeguard the local “Biyelgee” specificity and offer legal protection to the practitioners.
- Also they co-organize workshops with cultural organizations and secondary schools in central and local area. By hiring the senior practitioners as teachers to the younger generation. The students who participate in these classes are volunteers.
- By the 2010 decree 546 on the protection of the ICH element of the Minister of Culture, Education and Science, we organized training and apprenticeship programmes involving 81 individuals for 16,2 million tugriks budget. From this budget, 3 million tugriks were distributed as a support to 15 bearers who where involved in the programme.
- In 2012, "Talents" programme has been approved by the ministry and the workshop been held 18-28th March 2013, organized by the "Hugsuu ensemble" and local NGO's to support and teach to over 400 students from nationwide. Handbooks and DVD's have published to spread over cultural centers.
- Since many schools and kindergartens are involved to teach the art of “Biyelgee”, over 1200 children are practicing and wear traditional costumes and ornaments.
- Since 2012, M Kh.Magazdai from Uvs province - ‘khotont biyelgee’, M B.Buyanjargal from Naranbulag soum – ‘durvud biyelgee’, M T.Duuren from Zuungobi soum – ‘bayad biyelgee’ and Ms B.Badamtsetseg from Khovd aimag – ‘zakhchin biyelgee’, are made contract with the Culture and Arts Committee to teach and apprentice their knowledge. Since 2009, 31 professional dancers been graduate with degree in “Biyelgee” from the Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture, Music and Dance College of Ulaanbaatar and Zavkhan province.
- "Ikh khugsuu" association has been established in 2010 by Biyelgee practitioners with the objectives to restore some forgotten art of bielgee, to transmit the heritage to the next generation and to promote and spread this art in the world. Since then, based on Ministry of Culture's A/160 decision, the association has been organizing Bielgee workshops and apprenticeships in 21 province of Mongolia from 15th February 2013 till 20 April 2013. This activity involved 15 325 individuals of 3 to 75 years old.
C: Awareness raising, dissemination and promotion
- We have produced and distributed 20min promotional documentary film, “Biyelgee” inventorying, registration and list of practitioners and a completed catalogue on Mongolian folk dance “Biyelgee”. Now 436 practitioners have been registered.
- To promote the Mongolian national ICH, we have published books such as "Mongolian National Intangible Cultural Heritage" and " Rare and Unique Mongolian national ICH". Also published an introduction to “Biyelgee”, biography of highly talented bearers and photo collections.
- In December 2010, Ministry of Culture and Arts and Culture Committee, NGO's have organized a national competition with 3 age categories where 120 practitioners are participated.
- Mongolian National Folk Arts Festival is organized every 5 years. In 2011 among 820 participants, 142 participants were “Biyelgee” practitioners.
- In 2012 with the association of Culture and Arts committee, we have produced a documentary film and with the help of scholars and researchers, series of educational DVD to distribute in secondary schools.
- Last few years there were many publications concerning the “Biyelgee” such as; "Wonder of “Biyelgee” ", 2010- Pr D.Nanjid, State University of Arts and Culture, "Dictionary of Mongolian Dance Arts" 2010- Pr J.Erdenekhorloo, SUAC.
- 7th June 2013, in the "Talent" programme framework, 1023 “Biyelgee” practitioners of all levels have been gathered and danced for 90min in Arvaikheer, Uvurkhangai Province. It was TV broadcasted on air to public. The participants were all from different provinces.
- Governmental and non-governmental organization that conduct activities to safeguard and protect the “Biyelgee”, scholars and researchers, bearers and practitioners are continuing to increase its social and cultural functions through publishing books and articles, creating documentary films, and TV programs.

B.3c. Participation of communities, groups or individuals in the safeguarding activities

The safeguarding measures were elaborated with full participation of the ICH bearers, concerned representatives of relevant NGOs, and their opinions and recommendations were freely been reflected in the National Safeguarding Plan of the Mongol Epic.
The main activities under this project for safeguarding the epic, conducting research, advertising and transmitting to the younger generation were implemented with full participation of the epic performers and associations established by themselves.
Associations:
- "Mongolian folk dance - Biyelgee transmission" association been also very present to promote the Bielgee spectacles during the opening of the national feast of Naadam in 2009, 2011 and 2012. The association has 50 practitioners as members.
- "Heritage treasure-Biyelgee" association works and studies on ethnical diversity of the Biyelgee. The association contributes more in studying its associated custom and vocabulary, identifying its method of learning.
- "Ikh khugsuu" association has been established in 2010 by Biyelgee practitioners with the objectives to restore some forgotten art of bielgee, to transmit the heritage to the next generation and to promote and spread this art in the world. Since then, based on Ministry of Culture's A/160 decision, the association has been organizing Bielgee workshops and apprenticeships in 21 province of Mongolia from 15th february 2013 till 20 april 2013. This activity involved 15 325 individuals of 3 to 75 years old.
- The Union of "Mongolian folk dance Biyelgee" has reunited communities from Zakhchin, Uriankhai, Bayad and Durvud ethnics and started to study the Biyelgee, promote and acknowledge the talented bearers, and protect the legal rights for its practitioners. Since 2009 the union organizes each year on 29th of April a Biyelgee dance festivity. In 2010, this festivity involved 5 provinces and 450 participant
Provinces:
- In 2010, Bayan-Ulgii province has organized Kazakh and Uriankhai Biyelgee festival named after a Mongolian national artist, dance teacher M R.Samjid. This activity has contributed highly to Kazakh Biyelgee to be safeguarded and protected.

B.3d. Timetable and budget

Name of activity - Implementing body – Timeline - Fund(USD)
1. Ceremony of receiving Certificate of inscription into the UNESCO’s List of Urgent Safeguarding; Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Center for Cultural Heritage – 2009, USD 1.076
2. Acknowledgement of the bearers possessing a high level of skills and knowledge /15 person/ ; Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and Center for Cultural Heritage – 2010-2012; USD 2.150
3. To conduct the apprenticeship training in Khovd and Uvs provinces; Art Committee Government agency; 2012-2013; USD 1.792
4. Creation of registration-information database at local and national level; Center for Cultural Heritage; 2009-2012; USD 4.301
5. To organize local and nationwide competitions among Biyelgee dancers and bearers /every year/; Ministry of Education, Culture and Science; 2009-2012; USD 8.602
6. “Apprenticeship training on Biyelgee dance” project; “Ikh Khugsuu association” NGO; 2013; USD 16.487 /lump sum/
7. Nationwide competition “Biyer metgekh Ugalz”, Art Committe

B.3e. Overall effectiveness of the safeguarding activities

The fact that the “Biyelgee” has been inscribed brought us a major step. Since it was inscribed, there were a major change on public opinions concerning this heritage. It influenced public and the practitioners vision of Mongolian folk dance - “Biyelgee” as an rare et unique heritage of our nation. It created more interest and even attracted younger generation to study and acknowledge this art.
Also the Mongolian government has taken some action to safeguard and support its development. Mongolia has established 6 years National Safeguarding plan to promote and transmit this heritage to our future generation. It's positive effect is very visible in our society. As a result “Biyelgee” has became part of our everyday life and the concerned community, bearers and practitioners do perfectly understand that it is their identity. And they are very proud of their own heritage.
All the activities and related works have done very precious results as the “Biyelgee” is developing other related heritage such as embroidery, craftsmanship and

B.4. Community participation

The Biyelgee practicing communities are actively involved in the Mongolian folk dance- Biyelgee development activities in order to safeguard, protect, restore, develop, disseminate, transmit, inherit, teach and promote it through media, publication and radio. For example:
Since 2012, M Kh.Magazdai from Uvs province- khotont bielgee, M B.Buyanjargal from Naranbulag soum - 'durvud biyelgee', M T.Duuren from Zuungobi soum - 'bayad biyelgee' and Ms B.Badamtsetseg from Khovd aimag - 'zakhchin biyelgee', are highly involved in the heritage transmission project and made contract with the Culture and Arts Committee to teach and contribute their traditional knowledge to the next generation. National artists and volunteers have gathered together to create sustainable cultural activities which established several organizations; "Union of Mongolian folk art Biyelgee", "Union of folk dance Biyelgee transmission" and "Union of heritage treasure". These organization's main activities are linked to develop and safeguard the local Biyelgee specifi

B.5. Institutional context

Ms Ts.Tsendsuren
Head of the Cultural Heritage Departement,
Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism
Government building X, Place Barilgachid, Chingeltei District,
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Tel: +976-9312-4367
Fax: +976-11-310466
email: tsendsuren0525@yahoo.com
Department is responsible for the method and planning of safeguarding the cultural heritage.
Centre for Cultural Heritage
This is a professional and certificated organization and its ICH section established in 2008 in order to protect both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Organization works in worldwide to safeguard and protect documents and videos, research on ICH bearers, inventorying transmission program for future generations and central archive for registration and information.
Address: Mongolia, 21 06 20 a, Ulaanbaatar, Sukhbaatar district, Sukhbaatar square 3, Jamiyang’s street, B section of Central Cultural palace
POBox: Ulaanbaatar 210628, Mongolia
Director: G.Enkhbat
Tel Phone: + 976-11-312-735
+ 976-70110877
Fax

B.6. Participation of communities in preparing this report

In March 2012 the Government have established a commission to work on the national activity reports for the different measures taking by Mongolia to safeguard and protect the elements inscribed on UNESCO List of Urgent Safeguarding of ICH. This commission is represented by governmental and non governmental organizations, community, practitioners, bearers and individuals. Above mentioned members of the commission were approved. And during the process of preparation of this report, the community, practitioners and individuals have assisted and give information about their contribution to the activity depending their field and some community and association have sent an written report of their local activity.

C. Signature on behalf of the state party

Name

M.Tumenjargal

Title

Vice-Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Mongolia

Date

30-01-2014

Signature

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