What is on country?
In Australia, and only recently, the English language term on country is now used by Aboriginal peoples to describe the lands and waterways to which they are connected. To extend this concept to Mongolia’s vast terrain and its peoples, grassland steppes, mountains and mountain ranges should also be included. In both these settings, the term on country contains a complex of ideas about place, law, custom, language, spiritual belief, cultural practice, material sustenance, family and identity.*
During the northern Summer of 2013, I was invited to join J.Gundegmaa and her family on their pilgrimage to important locations in Sukhbaatar Aimag, a long journey by road (and no road) to the east from Ulaanbaatar out onto the vast Mongol steppe. These included the exact place of her birth, that of her beloved husband and other sites of significance on this their home country. What an extraordinary journey this was for me! I was given permission to openly observe and participate, and hence learnt so much about the traditional and other practices of her nomadic people.
In the above photograph, J.Gundegmaa is riding (joyfully!) surveying the terrain not far from the exact place where the family’s Mongolian ger was located during the Summer, and in which she was born. The central wheel of this particular ger, now dismantled, has been lovingly repaired and restored.
I’ve long been a fan of this Mongol-Persian world music ensemble. SEDAA’s Master singer Nasaa Nasanjargal and Naraa Naranbaatar who studied in their Mongolian homeland, dulcimer player Ganzorig Davaakhuu and the Iranian multi-instrumentalist Omid Bahadori. Their music is one of my favourite travelling companions on long journeys, those that require travelling many thousands of miles …
My piano arrangement on You Tube of SEDAA’s Coming Home (2018) is for our wonderful, inspirational Jantsan Gundegmaa.
🎧 CP cover version (2023): Coming Home (arr. classical piano) on You Tube
* See: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Studies (AIATSIS) at aiatsis.gov.au
© 2023. CP in Mongolia. This post is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. Posted: 28 January 2023. Last updated: 27 March 2023.