Mongol ethnic groups of Mongolia are diverse and dispersed widely across the nations in every part of the world. They have relatively low population numbers, hence the label of minority ethnic group. One of the largest Mongol minority populations are the Dövöd who only make up approximately 3% of the whole population.
Like most of the Mongol minority populations, the Dövöd mostly stay confined to a specific part of the country that was originally their own, for example, the western provinces. Most of the Mongol minority populations still live in semi-nomadic pastoral bands that keep on moving across the high-altitude plains where their ancient culture originated.
However, a lot of people worry that nomadic herding is not sustainable anymore because major cities are developing throughout the country they live in where more economic opportunities are available and climate change is drying up the land.
The Mongolic Group in Siberia
Even though ethnic Russians cover more than four-fifths of the Russia’s total population, it is still a diverse, multiethnic society. There are more than 120 ethnic groups; there are many ethnic groups holding their own national territories; there are many groups speaking some 100 languages living within Russia’s borders. Many of these groups are small in numbers. In some cases, they consist of fewer than a thousand people.
In specific part of Russia, there is a Mongol minority population that has been residing since ancient time. They are called Buryat people, the northernmost of the major Mongol ethnic group that live in south and east of Lake Baikal. According to the Treaty of Nerchinsk signed in 1689, their land was given by China to the Russian Empire.
In this article, we will learn more about Buryat people so here are 6 facts of Buryat people, the Mongolic group in Siberia. Keep on reading. You may also check caucasian people and ethnicity.
- Historical Background
Historically speaking, the Buryat minority population is descendant of the Mongols who used to live in the area of Lake Baikal and initially became part of the Mongol Empire back in the 13th century.
About two centuries later, they signed up with the separated confederation of Oirat tribes in East Mongolia. Long story short, Russia started claiming the Buryat territories. Now being included in an integrated part of the Russian Federation, most of them live in the Republic of Buryatia and nearby territories.
- Status of Buryat
Both Buryat and Russian are acknowledged as the official languages of Republic of Buryatia. There are a couple of publications that use Buryat. Also, it is the language spoken for most day-to-day communication. The local government in Siberia does their absolute best to preserve their historic, traditional language, and there are different dialects that are acknowledged as minority languages in Mongolia.
- Their Roles in History
Historically speaking, the Buryat minority group was a bunch of nomadic peoples who kept sheep, camels, goats, cattle, and horses which they utilized as beasts of burden to produce milk and meat for sustenance and traveling upon. They were also known for being fishermen, hunters, and gatherers.
Their social structure includes commoner class and noble class. In earlier times, they even held slaves. They mostly had the Buddhist belief system while some of them engaged in shamanic practices. In Siberia, the Mongol Buryats leaned more towards Buddhist belief system while the Western Buryats had converted to Orthodox Christianity.
They have been maintaining their ancestry by clan and feudal affiliations up until now. The area of Lake Baikal is one of the Buryat minority group’s places of origin.
- Housing and Habitation
The habitations of the Buryat people were almost always temporary, just like others living Mongol nomadic existences. They even have the yurts, constructions which are similarly built of the same materials as the Mongol yurts using felt coverings and wooden frames.
However, Buryat people in the Taiga lived in cone-shaped huts called chum, constructions which are designated from animal hides. Buryat people in Lake Baikal were influenced by the Cossack residences in the neighboring countryside.
However, a lot of modern Buryat people have now adjusted to city life in apartment buildings though in the country sides of Siberia, a lot of Buryat people still prefer the izba huts of the ancient types that are adopted from the Russian frame huts.
- Arts and Foods
The traditional Buryat arts include metalworking and jewelry-making which still exist up until now. Back in the days, wooden sculptures of Buddhist figures were crafted for religious purposes and leather goods were popular among Buryat tradesmen.
Dishes and kitchen utensils were made out of wood such as bowls for dining and food storage containers. Buryat foods are largely a foraged plants, mix of milk and other dairy products, and meat. It was a reflection of their nomadic herding lifestyles. The peak milking season produced a good amount of high-energy cheese and butter that helped support their work on a daily basis.
One of the most unique Buryat culinary specialties is vodka which is distilled from roots, berries, milk, and flour. Buryat food was also influenced by shamanistic practices, for example, kumys is fermented horse’s milk and a beverage that is believed to have healing powers.
- Colorful Culture
The first exceptional feature that draws foreigners’ interest is the fact that the Buryat culture is colorful. The colors are constantly used in their religious practices and each color has its special meaning, even the garments worn for a Buryat traditional event are also very bright and vivid.
The Buryat people believe that every individual has their own signature color which is assigned to a person according to their birth year. If you plan a trip to Buryatia, you will have a unique chance to find out about your own color. You can find it out in the most popular Buryat Buddhist temple named Ivolginsky Datsan.
So, those are 6 facts of Buryat people, the Mongolic group in Siberia.