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Source: Index >> Xinjiang_Today >> Xinjiang Regions

IV Bayangol Cultures
(Tianshannet) Updated: 2010-July-8 11:33:48

Bayangol is the origin for the national cultures of Torgut Mongols, with the epic "Janger' widely spreading here. The literature of Mongols has long history of origin and has spread vast in areas and long in times. Bayangol has been the site for nationality migration in humankind history. In the 18th century,China's Mongolian Torgut section living in the Volga drainage, carried out an armed uprising led by their leader Ubasi Khan and returned back eastward to China after breaking through Czar's Russian blockages, succeeded in escaping from Czar Russian's cruel dominion and national oppression. The glistening and rich history has created Bayangol's extraordinary culture, people are living their own lives on this land which is called China's largest prefecture.

Epic “Janger"

Mongols epic Janger tells the story that a group of heroes represented by Janger who fight for their ideal garden of happiness "Baomuba State". It is can be called the encyclopedia of Mongols' politics, economy, cultures, arts and customs.

"Janger" is mainly popular among Oyrat Mongols in the three countries of China, Mongolia and Russia, which is closely related with Oyrat Mongols' migrations in history. Contemporary Chinese scholars commonly think that, the beginning of "Janger" was before Oyrat's westward migration, and then on Kalmykia grassland, it developed into maturity and returned back into China along with Oyrat people. Together with Manas and Gesar, Janger belongs to the three great epics among common people in China, and is in the kind of folk literature of intangible culture heritages. Janger can be sung or spoken, the accompanying instruments for it are plucked and bowed string instruments such as tuobuxiuer and huqin. As it is popular in a vast area, there are more than 200 varied forms. It is not only the cultural treasure of Mongols in Xinjiang, but also the rare arts of Mongols in China and even in the whole world.

The Torgut people today

Janger has been popular among the people by oral tradition. After many generations of continuous improvement and enrichment, especially by the efforts of Jianggerqi, who is a folk actor performing Janger, the epic's length has been gradually added and the content enriched, and has been formed at last into a great epic. Up to now, there are about 60 versions at home and abroad, each with a length of 100,000 lines. This epic is named after the hero Janger. The explanation of the term "Janger" has not been finalized yet. In Persian language, it is explained as "conquer of the world"; in Turkic, it is "winner","orphan"; it is explained as a varied form of "jianggelai"; in Mongolian, it is explained as "the capable". What Janger has described are not real historical events or characters, all its plots and characters are out of fabrication.

The place for the earliest discovery of the epic Janger in world, though, is in Volga drainage in Europe which is thousand miles away. From 1802 to 1803, the German Bergman went to Kalmykia Grassland to examine on site Kalmykia people's life,customs and their oral creation works. Wherever he went, he would hear Kalmykia actors performing an epic called Janger, and was fascinated by its charm. Then, he decided to record these graceful poetic chapters. In 1804, he selected two chapters from the epic and translated them into German and had them published. At the same time, he published his research paper on the works and its performing actors. From them on, Janger became well known in the western world as a famous Kalmykia epic, and many scholars one after another participated in its collection, compiling, publication and research. When China started to gather in large scale Janger at home in 1978, the study of Janger has been a mature global research subject with nearly 200 year history.

Started in the 80s of the 20th century, Xinjiang set up a working group special for Janger’s gathering, compiling and publication in order to save and explore in full efforts this excellent nationality traditional art. A few experts and scholars in Xinjiang have spent more than 20 years, travelled deeply into the agricultural and herding areas of 24 counties, and gathered more than 100 actors' various forms of Janger. After a lot of work of verification, selection and compiling, they have edited and published early or later 14 editions on Janger and 3 literature reading materials, and translated it into Chinese and published the whole copy of the epic with 6 volumes, 70 chapters and 150,000 lines.

On May 20, 2006, approved by State Department, Janger was listed as the first batch of national intangible cultural heritages, which will help Janger be wholly kept in the new era and continue to spread its limitless cultural charms.

(SOURCES:China Intercontinental Press)Editor: zhaoqian
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