Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia
OLD LEGENDS IN MODERN LITERATURE: MYSTICAL ENCHANTMENT OF G.MEND-OOYO’S WORKS
One of the Modern literature main sources is, undoubtedly, folklore. Folk genres, themes and motives were very popular among the writers and poets of the 20-30-s of the XX century, who were the founders of the Modern Mongolian literature: D.Natsagdorg, Ts.Damdinsurung, B.Rinchen, M.Jadamsurung and others. Nowadays, at the beginning of the XXI century folklore is very popular as well. One can say that modern authors continue traditions of their literary ancestors and give folklore a new resound in their creative works. If not be restricted by only a subject level, we can say, that the influence of folk traditions is typical for the creative works of S.Dulam (born 1950), D.Uriankhai (born 1940), B.Lhagvasurung (born 1945), D.Batbayar (born 1944), L.Dashniam (born 1943), Ts.Tumenbayar (born 1959) and others.
G.Mend-Ooyo (born 1957) is certainly such an author. His birthplace is Ongon somon, Sukhe-Bator aimak in the East part of Mongolia. In 1978 G.Mend-Ooyo graduated from the Pedagogical Institute in Ulan-Bator. Then he was a teacher at secondary school, a publisher a clerk in the Ministry of Culture in MPR. Nowadays G.Mend-Ooyo is the author of more than 30 books of poems, prose, literary sketches and dramas, various International and State Literary Prizes laureate, the Mongolian PEN club Chairman. His books were translated to many foreign languages.
G.Mend-Ooyo’s literary career begun with publication of his first book of poems “Bird of Thoughts” («Бодлын шувуу» ) in 1980. In 1993 the most popular book by Mend-Ooyo “Golden Hill” («Алтан Овоо» ) was published. It will have two more editions and be translated into English by Simon Wikham Smith in 2007. The author’s main idea, by his own words was to create a stupa – book, dedicated to his native land Dariganga in Sukhe-Bator aimak, Mongolia. Stupa or chaitja is a sacral Buddhist construction, with manuscripts, books and herbs put inside. And almost like such a sacral stupa G.Mend-Ooyo filled his book with different folklore genres: local legends, fairy and heroic tales, songs, ballades and hymn poems in both prosaic and poetical forms. The “Golden Hill” is filled with folk material – traditional ideas, characters, subjects and motives, formulas, clichés and stylistic methods. Many episodes are traditional subjects and motives more or less modified. However one can not speak about a full adequacy of the book’s folk material to the traditional folklore. Mend-Ooyo‘s book is not a fairy tale or a legend in Modern authors interpretation, it’s a folklorized improvisation with folklore used as a base and a construction material.
“Without any exaggeration one can say, that G.Mend-Ooyo as if he is making pearl necklace, is trying to save for the future generations traditions of native land worship, historical and cultural heritage of his nation,”- writes the Mongolian specialist in literature professor O.Sukhebaatar.
“Golden Hill” represents Mongolian poet G.Mend-Ooyo’s greatest literary achievement to date. He refers to it as an almanac, relating his own experience customs of his homeland through the focus of the topographical Golden Hill of the title”, - writes the English translator of the book Simon Wickham-Smith.
And “Golden Hill” mostly like an ancient Buddhist stupa is divided into eight main parts, called бөлөг, according the religious canon.
Central image of the book is a very high hill, named Golden Hill - a sacred place for worships, where the spirit of this very place lives, defending all its human beings. And the book is illustrated by beautiful photos and drawn pictures of this hill.
It is to be mentioned, that G.Mend-Ooyo’s “Golden Hill” has got two main subject planes - common and mythological. It is characterized by great exactness of life details and concrete exposition. The lyrical hero of the book as well as its author was born at Dariganga region of Mongolia. Love to the native land, detail knowing of the traditions, customs and legends in this region are transferred from generation to generation. Hero’s father knows all surrounding hills and mountains, rivers and springs, valleys and hollows and asks his son to remember them. «Father intoned the names of mountains and water, and the forty-first was Golden Hill. Our eyes and our hearts grew used to the mountains which surrounded us there and, from in the blue distant haze, they shone brighter.”
If the father introduces the outside world to his son, mother is a keeper of family legends and stories. Being grown up the hero hears stories about his own childhood, about his father and other relatives. A poem in prose “Poet’s Mother “(«Яруу найрагчийн ээж» ) is dedicated to the mother.
Зуны амралтаар талдаа яаран
Зуун уулыг даван ирлээ.
Удаан санасан ээж бид хоёр
Урд урдаасаа гар сунган алхлаа.
Баярласандаа ээж мэлмэрэнхэн угтлаа
Ээж бид хоёр инээж уйлан уулзлаа,
Ижилхэн сэтгэл, ижилхэн мөрөөдөл тайлан уулзлаа.
Hurrying over the steppe during the summer holydays,
I cross a hundred mountains,
Mother and I have long be waiting for this, and
I turn my legs towards the south.
I went in, smiling with joy.
Mother came to meet me, crying with joy.
Together, mother and I, laughing and weeping.
Together, with our hearts and desires fulfilled.
In future the lyrical hero himself becomes a part in the chain connecting his parents and his two sons.« I am standing in the space between the absence of my father, who has passed beyond this diverse world, and the presence of my two sons, the point, at which they entered the world of Golden Hill.”
For all of his life the lyrical hero remembered the wise lessons of his mother: “My son, please think about Golden Hill. Every hill and body of water is contained within it. The Ganga is its wife, they say, Khongor it’s child, Lung is its compassionate monk, Bayandulan is its minister, the Brown Hill of Dokhom is its younger brother. And its relatives dwell upon the colored earth of Dariganga”
G.Mend-Ooyo using method of personification, represents all surrounding hills, mountains, waters, stones and sands to have a human soul. The text contains ancient legends about all of the natural objects: « The Brown Hill of Dokhom is Golden Hill’s younger brother» («Алтан-овооны төрсөн дүү Дөхөмийн бор-овоо» ), «Mother Ganga – the Rescue»(«Гэтэлгэгч –Ганга ээж» ), «Ganga’s Daughter Legend »(«Гангын охины домог» ) and others.
G.Mend-Ooyo, alternating prose and poetical texts, skillfully uses toponymical legends. Here a funeral procession with a body of great Chinngis Khan passed to the north to his native land, there Chinngis Khan’s grandson was born, here on the Tsagaan nur lake shore Togon Tumur, passing from Chinese town of Daidu carrying a Great State Jade Seal stopped with his camp. Historical legends are coming alongside with Buddhist ones. Just not far from this very place in Dariganga in ancient times the younger son of Harmusta Tengry came down from the Sky. And the nearby places are connected with the names of well known folklore characters – Toroi bandi and Huhdei Mergen. Just after that, G.Mend-Ooyo refers to the reminiscences about his racehorse – father’s present. « Thus, at the age of eighteen, with my official credentials as a teacher stuffed in my pocket, I took up a job in a remote settlement of the Gobi. » The son gets a wonderful racehorse with a full gear as a present from his father: skillfully decorated saddle, silver bridle, knelling stirrups, which mother asperses with milk. Father compares this horse with a topaz, saying that a horse is the dearest thing for every Mongolian person.
Yлэмж эртний нутагт минь
Yлгэрийн манна татна
Тэрхүү манна дотроос
Тэнхээт хүлэг үүрсэнэ.
гурий, гурий, гурий
Аяа, үлгэрийн ногоон морьд мину
Араар дүүрэн, өврөөр дүүрэн
Ай, түмэн молор эрдэнэ мөн өө!
Ай хө, монголын эрдэнэ мөн өө!
A haze of stories
Gathers over my wide and ancient homeland.
And, from within that haze,
Comes a powerful horse…
come, come here, come here
Oh, I load up this horse in my story, it
Goes before me northwards, goes before me southwards,
My horse –
Oh, indeed it is like topaz, and
Oh, indeed it is a Mongol’s jewel.
This theme is very dear to every Mongol man. Here the author presents a very famous story about eight light bay horses, given to Temuchjin, his mother and brothers by his father Esugei baghatur. G.Mend-Ooyo refers to other legends, stories, thoughts and reminiscences, the main character of which is a Mongolian horse. Here a traditional folklore is used on different levels: plot and theme as well as stylistic.
A spirit of all animals and birds is a well known White Old man, who is always surrounded by them. He is often sitting on the Golden Hill’s slope and gold swallows, carrying flame in their beaks are flying around him. G.Mend-Ooyo gives several legends about animals and birds – a legend about an orphan foal, wounded swan, saved by poor man and woman, several stories about cranes ( in prose and verses), about a bold sheep, which traveled through Lhasa and Napels. And a real author’s find is a legend “Quickwit the Camel” («Шөргөн шар атны туурь» ), about a camel’s death.
A story about Motherland is not full without telling about its people. They are nomads and they live in an agreement with the surrounding nature of their homeland. G.Mend-Ooyo represents the four seasons of the year as well as the times of the day and night in his prosaic poem “ Riding out of the Brightness” («Гэгээн зүгээс морьтой айсуй» ). The theme of the four seasons is traditional for Mongolian literature. But the “Golden Hill” author managed to reach synthesis between nature and the emotional condition of his hero – a horseman. « A man rode out from the ger and headed off clip clop straight towards the south. Where was he going? He went up onto the hill and craned his neck back, gazing about him, surveying the scene through binoculars. And in so doing, it seemed to him that he held in the palm of his hand the outline of the shrubs and feathergrass and the small groups of cattle and hobbled horses and, beyond that, the town” The nomads life is impossible without songs. Long lasting songs are heard through the steppe during all four seasons of the year and in any time of the day.
The book is concluded with a poem “The Worship to a Golden Hill” («Алтан-овооны тахилын шүлэг» ), written in a ritual poetry genre, which combines shamanic and Buddhist traditions.
The book by G.Mend-Ooyo is written in various genres: traditional folklore genres - домог (legend), дууль (ballades), тууль (epic), туурь (story), as well as literary genres бодохуй, бодол (thoughts), дуртган санах, санал (reminiscences), огүүэх (story), ярилцах (dialogue), хууч (conversation), мөргөл, залбирал (prayer), тахилых шүлэг (ritual poems).
In the centre of the image system is the Golden Hill – mythical world mountain Sumeru, which connects Earth and Sky, upper, middle and lower worlds. The coexistence of secular and sacral worlds, the union of real and mythical spheres, poetical style, the usage of prose and poetry give the work by G.Mend-Ooyo mystical enchantment. This was also noted by Mongolian and European readers and literary critics. To my mind, modern presentation of traditional legends and ballades by G.Mend-Ooyo is a conscious author’s position. It demonstrates creative usage of folklore in Modern Mongolian literature.
Nowadays the worship to the Golden Hill is annually performed in the Dariganga region and thousands of people are coming from all over the country.