Mongγol uran zokijal-un degezi zayun bilig orusibai, an invaluable treasure by its concept and history

Mongγol uran zokijal-un degezi zayun bilig orusibai,
an invaluable treasure
by its concept and history

Rodica Pop

(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)

Mongγol uran zokijal-un degezi zayun bilig orusibai [The Hundred Wisdoms, Anthology of the Mongolian Literature], an imposing anthology of classic texts was published by C. Damdinsüren in 1959. The book, published by the press of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, is the 14th volume of a collection of manuscripts and fondamental texts, intended to the scientific work and not to the mass education as indicated by the title of the collection: “Corpus scriptorum mongolorum Unstituti linguae et litterarum comiteti scientiarum et educationis altae republicae populi mongoli”. Indeed, beginning in the 1950s two categories of materials were mainly published in Mongolia: pieces of oral tradition collected by Mongol ethnographers and folklorits from the mouths of informants and manuscripts found in the yurts and now preserved in the funds of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The texts themselves represent a recollection of Mongolian traditions preserved in the memory of informants, viz. an earlier state of society, which prevailed at the beginning of the the 20th century or even at the end of the 19th century. From 1960s through 1980s, the circulation of these publications was restricted to a circle of specialists. Although the communist regime fought against these traditions they did not disappear overnight but subsisted, in memory of course, but also through herdsmen who perpetuated ancestral preactices despite injunction of the state.

These texts had a broader diffusion since 1990s, when the Mongols started to restore traditions considered as threatened. Even before that, in the 80s the impressive corpus of texts started gradually to be approached by a larger category of people. In schools and universities professors started to talk freely and loudly about its precious content and the volume was taken forever from the shelves where it was kept for years as a privilege restricted to the scientists.

Thus the history of the volume is unique: meant exclusively to the archival storage and scientific observation, the anthology of texts represent nowadays an invaluable and reliable source of information through a corpus of texts perfectly preserved.