Embracing the Soul of Mongolia: Biyelgee, Traditional Dance

Dr. Seong-Yong Park 승인 2024.04.20 16:22 | 최종 수정 2024.05.14 11:34 의견 0

In the heart of Mongolia's sweeping grasslands, a dance unfolds that speaks of the soul of this ancient land. Biyelgee, meaning "to sing for the soul," is a traditional Mongolian dance that echoes the life and spirit of the Mongolian nomads. This dance, intricately weaving together customs, rituals, and daily experiences, is a testament to the enduring legacy of Mongolia's nomadic heritage.

The Dance: A Melody of Tradition and Evolution

Biyelgee's movements, designed for the nomads' mobile dwelling, the ger, combine vigor and fluidity. Legs remain stationary as the upper body sways, with fists or open hands punctuating the air. Performed in vibrant traditional costumes, biyelgee accompanies the sounds of classic Mongolian instruments like the morin khuur, ikel khuur, tovshuur, and tsuur. Centuries of history, from the Mongol Empire's decline to modern urbanization, have shaped biyelgee's composition, costumes, and accessories, creating a dance that resonates with tradition while evolving with the times.

Diversity in Unity: Embodying Cultural Diversity

Biyelgee finds diverse expressions in various Mongolian communities, reflecting the distinctiveness of different ethnic groups from Bulgan to Uvs aimag. Beyond its artistic beauty, biyelgee serves a profound purpose as a prayer for happiness and peace, echoing the aspirations of Mongolian society. In village celebrations and grand events like naadam festivities, biyelgee takes center stage, serving as a bridge between communities and fostering understanding.

Challenges and Commitment: A Global Effort for Preservation

Despite its cherished place in Mongolian culture, biyelgee faces challenges with declining skilled performers. Initiatives like the Association for the Transmission of Mongolian Bii Biyelgee Dance are working to pass down this art to younger generations. In 2009, biyelgee was inscribed on the UNESCO Urgent Safeguarding List (USL), marking a pivotal moment in its preservation journey. The Mongolian government, in collaboration with international partners, is committed to keeping this tradition alive through projects like the Mongolian Traditional Bii Biyelgee.

Through the dancers' colorful costumes and rhythmic movements to ancient instruments, biyelgee breathes life into the timeless tradition of Mongolia's vast grasslands. In their performance, they honor the spirit of the nomads, inviting audiences into a world where tradition meets modernity, and the essence of Mongolia's heritage dances on.

This article is part of our ongoing coverage of intangible cultural heritages around the world.

Biyelgee Practitioners in Naadam Festival, Photo by Batbold Chimed, Batjargal. B
Biyelgee Performance, Photo by Batbold Chimed, Batjargal. B
The Members of Biyelgee Preservation Association, Photo by Batbold Chimed, Batjargal. B

April 20, 2024. Contributed by Publisher & Editor Dr. Seong-Yong Park.

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