Suitcase and World: Naadam Festival. The Archers!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Naadam Festival. The Archers!

fter lunch, we all headed back to Central Stadium to watch the archery events. Held in a smaller venue than the open ceremony was, Violeta and I were able to get a good spot in the viewing area to watch the events from. From our vantage point, in the viewing stand, we could see the image of Chinggis Khan painted into the hillside.

We had no idea what was going on so for us, it was more about people watching than anything else. The archers are all required to be dressed in the national costume of Mongolia which is a robe-like garment called a deel. The deel is worn with a thin silk sash several yards long tightly wound around the waist. Boots were definitely the footwear of choice. No two outfits were alike.

Some were definitely more elaborate than others but all were beautiful. I have to admit, it was refreshing to see a man dressed up in a deel made of red and gold silk brocade, looking very masculine.

Archery is the only one of the three "manly" sports that women can participate in. The women were competing when we arrived.

The key difference between the men and women competitors is that the women shoot over a shorter distance. Even so, I was impressed when several of them consistently hit bulls-eyes....and when they did, the crowd roared in appreciation.

Aside from having to wear the deel, the other rule of the competition is that the competitors have to make their own bows and arrows. Consequently, no two bows were alike....some were very well crafted.

Update:  February 2, 2015. I just saw an episode of "Bizaare Foods with Andrew Zimmern" that took place in Mongolia.  Andrew spent time with a group of modern day Mongolians who are determined to keep the tradition of archery alive.  This includes dressing up in traditional costumes.  The key archer that the episode focused on was a guy named Zoreg Mashbaat.  I had to Google to find a transcript of the episode to get his name.   In any event, he is the guy in the photo on the right!  I immediately recognized his very distinctive looking costume.  Nice to be able to put a name to the face!

The use of arm guards also varied. The brave archers wore none, some wore full leather guards and others simply wound cord around the arm.

Men shoot at the target from a distance of 75 meters and women from a distance of 60 meters. I don't know how the scoring is done. The targets are in the very far distance in the photo below.

I was thoroughly enjoying myself just people watching....had no clue what was going on as far as the actual competition was concerned and in all honesty, really didn't care. Score was definitely being kept but there was no scoreboard to indicate position ranking. We did see a few of the competitors being interviewed by a TV crew so we presumed those were the folks on the top of the leader board.

We didn't stay long. At the end of the day, I had a great time watching the archers at Naadam....a unique experience I will not forget!