Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mongolian Shamanism Alive and Well

It seems like almost every high point in Mongolia has an ovoo on it. What is an ovoo? It is basically a pile of rocks - like a cairn. Hundreds of years ago (and maybe still today?) animals were sacrificed at the ovoos. It seems like all Mongolians still 'worship' these rock piles.

This particular ovoo is known as 'Scary Rock' (I have no idea why). People walk around it three times and throw a rock onto the pile with each circumambulation. Sometimes Mongolians come with a bottle of vodka, dedicating the first glass to the ovoo and then enjoying the rest of the bottle themselves.

Anyone who's hiked in South Korea will have noticed similar rock piles all over the place (only minus the prayer flags).

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