The Mongolian Nobility




I CAME out to Mongolia from Sweden in 1893, for the Christian Missionary Alliance of New York, and worked under their direction until 1900. I was twenty-three years old. Except for six weeks spent in England, this was my first venture away from my homeland. I settled first at Paotao, on the Chinese border of Mongolia, and here I began to study the Mongolian language. I could find no books from which to work, but I secured a teacher, and used the method of asking him the name of this thing and the name of that — in this way making up a vocabulary. It was not very satisfactory; I made slow progress. I wished I might learn by living where Mongol was the native tongue, but it was not easy to secure residence within Mongolia. The Mongols are a proud people and do not encourage foreigners to settle among them.

I was attracted by what I saw of Mongolia across the border. All my life I had liked horses. I grew up with horses in Sweden; I groomed, fed, and rode them from my earliest boyhood. I longed to talk and live with these people who galloped through the streets of Paotao, for I admired their free, easy grace and the jolly good nature with which they seemed to joke with each other.

In those days I was very homesick. The Mongols seemed more akin to me than any other folk near.

The whole of Mongolia then was divided into innumerable states, each ruled over by a nobleman, with the power of an absolute monarch in his own territory. All these noblemen traced their right to rule back to the old days of Genghis Khan; many of them were direct descendants of Genghis’s sons.

My opportunity to enter the country finally came through the courtesy of the monarch of Ortos, the state whose borders touched Paotao. I made friends first with the Chinese military official in Paotao, through his horses, and he took me with him one time when he went to call on the Prince of Ortos.

The festivities lasted for three days. The Prince and his family were all very kind to me; I was very happy during the visit and very sorry when the end of the third day came and the mandarin took me up to bid farewell. The Prince spoke to me kindly. I knew enough Mongolian by that time to understand that he asked me to stay longer. I stayed.

Living quarters were prepared for me inside the monarch’s residence, and he personally selected a teacher to help me with the language. I had daily lessons, but more helpful than these lessons was the opportunity of hearing Mongol spoken all day long. I had to speak it too, because there was no other means by which I could let my thoughts be known to the people around me.

Copyright 1930, by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.

The Prince gave me good horses to ride and took me out with him continually on trips over the state. His wife visited me daily, always bringing one or two of the ladies in waiting with her to my quarters. She became my mother adviser in the small but important details of Mongolian etiquette.

One day she brought a crowd of young ladies to visit me, and they soon let me know that they had come for the special purpose of examining my knees. A Chinese trader who had come to the palace to sell silk brocades had told them that a foreigner’s knees could not be moved in the same way as those of the Mongols or the Chinese. I was embarrassed, but the Princess was the wife of the absolute ruler of the state as well as my hostess, and when she repeated her request I uncovered my knees. Then she and her ladies in waiting pinched and pushed them backward and forward. Finally they expressed their opinion that my legs were made in the same way as theirs. So they were satisfied, and I could cover my knees again.

Another day the ruler’s wife appeared saying that she thought it was very bad for a young man to live without a wife. She considered it too lonely for me, and felt that I should learn the language very much quicker if I had a woman to talk to always. She said that since I was an orphan with no parents to arrange a marriage for me, and in reality was in Ortos in the position of the Prince’s son, she had chosen a nice girl from her ladies in waiting.

She told me that all arrangements for the marriage had been made, adding that the girl was beautiful, high-spirited, and an excellent horsewoman — and in love with me. She was both surprised and annoyed when I declined her good offer. The Prince laughed heartily when he heard of it.

In Ortos I was taught to conduct myself as a Mongol gentleman, and in addition I learned much concerning life in the country and the method by which each ruler governs his small state. All this was later very useful to me.

I lived under the patronage of the monarch of Ortos for three months, and then, with introductions from him, I went north to Urga to enjoy the experience of life in the capital of Mongolia, where many nobles were gathered, as well as the advantage of using a cosmopolitan language.

People in Urga were very kind to me and exceedingly hospitable, as the Prince of Ortos had been. Here I made friends who have remained my friends all my life. All the monarchs of the states of North Mongolia had royal tents pitched in Urga. Some of them, in addition to governing their own states, had duties relating to Mongolia as a whole. There were also many nobles who came up for a few months every year to be near the Living Buddha, who was, in addition to being the Mongol God, a very popular man.

In Urga I made friendships which later opened the door into every state in Mongolia. I did not consciously do this, for I was a thoughtless, rollicking lad in those days, keen on hunting parties and sports of all kinds. The young Mongols of my own age were good companions, and I was never homesick after I had entered Ortos.


Some years after I first went to Mongolia, and when I had lived in many different parts of the country, I was called up to Urga and created a Mongol duke by the Emperor of Mongolia, with full rights equal to those of a Mongol prince’s son. This honor was a tremendous surprise to me.

Each ruler has his advisers and officials, some of noble birth and some who are from the commoners. Most of them were, and still are, very wealthy, although they have no money in banks. In fact, there are no banks in Mongolia, and if a Mongolian has any money he at once turns it into animals of some kind. Wealth is counted according to the number of horses owned. Many princes possess thousands, in addition to numberless sheep, camels, and cattle.

Many of the Mongolian nobles have built stone palaces, elaborate structures patterned after the Manchu palaces. But very few of them actually dwell inside of stone walls. They use these palaces on state occasions, at festival times, and whenever they wish to make a great display. The average Mongol is more comfortable in a tent. He has a distrust of the softening influences of luxurious modes of life. I have never met a Mongolian noblewoman who did not consider life inside of walls unhealthy.

Even when a monarch does dwell in his palace, the heir to the throne is brought up in a yurta beyond the palace gates, where he lives exactly the same hardening life that his ancestors have lived for centuries. His food is the simple strengthening food of the commoner — mutton and curd cheese; his drink, mare’s milk. He learns to ride as Genghis Khan rode, and to meet wolves, weather, and hunger with a stout heart. A monarch on the Mongolian plateau must be a man of physical prowess who does not know the word ‘fear.’

The ruler of a Mongolian state does not receive an allowance in money with which to meet his needs; but the people of the state must supply him with anything he requires. So, although he may possess many thousands of horses, which he has inherited perhaps from his mother, as his own fortune, still when he travels it is the custom for him to use state horses. And when he travels he also draws upon the country for men, tents, food, and anything else that he needs. The people have to provide him all the year round with felt for his tents, saddles, carts, oxen, clothes for himself and family — in fact, anything within reason that he needs.

All royal residences, whether movable yurtas or stone palaces, have connected with them a yamen, or place where all government business is transacted. Here the nobleman himself may go often, if he pleases, and personally attend to all the affairs of the state; but in actual practice he is much more likely to have this work done by commoners who are responsible to him.

In the yamen all disputes between individuals within the state are decided, criminals are punished, tributes are determined upon, and official dispatches on outside matters are written. Usually the man in charge of the yamen — or the men, if there happen to be several — talks with the nobleman concerning any important question before they reach a decision. All dispatches must be shown to him before they are sealed.

According to the old common law of Mongolia, still in force to-day except where Soviet influence has come in in North Mongolia, any and every citizen in a state has a right to personal audience with his ruler; but only in very special cases do citizens take advantage of this right. Usually all troubles are settled peaceably at the yamen.

Murder is a crime practically unheard of in Mongolia, and with the exception of Urga the country has no prisons. None are needed. The worst crimes are those sufficiently punished by a spanking administered at the yamen.

Each man and woman in a Mongol state owes one moon of annual service to the ruler of the state if that service is needed. It is the custom to call workers in turn.

The man or woman is used for whatever duty he or she is fitted to perform. One woman may be able to mend tents but would be impossible as a lady in waiting; a man might be a good magistrate but out of place as a cook. The Mongols are a people of common sense, and do not make mistakes in delegating a person to a piece of work.

This constant movement of the population to the royal residence and out again into the state has a dual value, for it makes all citizens well acquainted with the ruler. They watch him grow from babyhood to old age. They know him intimately, and he knows each and all of them.

I have traveled east and west, north and south, and been entertained by most of the noblemen of Mongolia. In many states I have known the father as monarch, and then his son as monarch, and now know the little boy who is growing up to rule, and in all my experience I have met with but three men who were not just rulers, with greater thought for the prosperity of their state than for their personal fortune. It is bred through centuries in the Mongol nobleman to consider it his duty to rule wisely and wall for the span of years allotted to him.


In 1908 the Prince of Hanta asked me to go with him on a trip from Urga to Peking, then to Tientsin and on to Shanghai. The Prince had never been to sea before, and he was much interested in our boat. We had a two-berth cabin together. I asked him to choose whether he would sleep in the upper or the lower berth. This matter occupied his mind for a long time.

He had never slept in a bed of any kind, as the Mongols always sleep on rugs thrown on the ground or on the floor of their yurtas or palaces. He pressed the berths with his hands, tried the springs, shook his head dubiously, and finally decided he would try to sleep in one of them; and when he had decided that, he gave his attention to the decision as to which it should be.

He said, ‘If I take the lower berth you will be above me, which is not quite right, as I am above you in rank.’ I agreed with him in this, but told him that it depended on which way we looked at it — whether the upper or the lower berth should by right go to the man of highest rank. Still, in case the steamer sank, the man in the upper berth would be nearer the surface of the sea.

He scratched his head over this for a little time, and then said, ‘Yes, if I were in the lower berth I might be drowned.’ So he took the upper berth, climbed into it, and there he stayed for the entire journey to Shanghai. The rough coastal trip he declared to be worse than any Mongolian blizzard.

When we got to Shanghai the steamer docked on the opposite side of the river from the city, and we had to cross in a small sampan. He was much frightened by this and inquired how he would be able to save himself in case the sampan sank. I told him there was nothing to do but swim for the shore, and explained to him as best I could what swimming was. He said it would be impossible for him ever to learn to swim, and asked if there was some aid by which a man could keep himself afloat in the water until rescued. I told him the only thing for that was a good lifebelt. He was much interested in the idea, and immediately we arrived on shore in Shanghai he insisted on going to a shop that sold lifebelts, where he ordered a hundred! These he shipped up to the plains of Mongolia, where they are probably in some yurta to-day.

When the Prince got back to Urga he unwrapped one of the lifebelts and showed it to the Living Buddha. The Buddha was most anxious to discover whether or not it would really work, so, as the River Tola was in high flood, they strapped it on to a lama priest and threw him in. He did not sink. The Prince of Hanta declared that the money spent for the lifebelts was really well invested.

Once the Prince stepped off the curb to cross Nanking Road in Shanghai right in front of a street car which was coming at a good pace. I seized his arm and tried to pull him back. Then, when he would not come back, I attempted to hurry him across. He stopped dead and said, ‘Don’t be a fool. I know how these cars are made. They have brakes and can be stopped at any place — so why hurry?'

In Shanghai the Prince of Hanta bought twenty thousand dollars’ worth of stuff for the Dalai Lama, who was then in Peking. This was a most extraordinary business. He gave no order for any particular thing. He made all his purchases in three days, and spent the whole sum on foreign objects. Morning and afternoon of each day he asked me to conduct him to a foreign shop. Inside, he pointed the butt of his riding whip at everything that took his fancy and ordered it wrapped up and dispatched to Peking.

He bought, among other things, clocks, watches, looking-glasses, knives, canes, rugs, lamps, lanterns, a big astronomical telescope, a kitchen range, an electric curling iron, ladies’ shoes with high heels, and a Christmas tree with decorations!

He ran riot in the shops. I could not curb his purchases or advise him in any single matter. He was like a child let loose in a bazaar. I did not think much of the things he got, but the Dalai Lama was very pleased, and so were all the friends whom he invited in to see what he had brought from the strange Chinese port city of Shanghai.


When a Mongolian boy or girl reaches the age of seven years it is customary for the parents to begin to look about among their friends for a suitable engagement for marriage. The lamas of the near-by lamasery are always consulted in this matter, and the horoscope of both children whose parents are considering a preliminary engagement is at once taken by a priest.

If the comparison of the horoscopes shows that the children were born under stars favorable to a prosperous and peaceful union, then the parents of the girl invite relatives and friends to a feast. This is called the ‘feast of the small white scarf’ or the ‘first engagement.’

The parents of the boy bring their young son with them to the festivities and the little boy kneels before his fiancée and holds his two hands, palms upward, in front, of him. On his upturned palms there lies a white silk scarf, and on the scarf two silver earrings, the gift and the symbol of the first engagement. The girl’s ears have already been pierced as a small child, in readiness for this gift. She takes the earrings from his hands and puts them on. This is the pledge that if they grow up suited to each other they will follow this first ceremony with a formal engagement when they are about fifteen.

If all has gone well with both families and their children have grown up healthy and wish to follow the engagement with marriage, the parents of the girl again make a feast. This is a much more serious and elaborate affair than the first. The family are busy for many days before, preparing for it, and only the girl’s relatives attend it. They assemble, dressed in their best clothes, and feast.

The parents of the boy are not invited, but they send a special delegate, who presents a big silk scarf and a pair of bracelets to the daughter of the house in whose honor the feast is held. By the offering and the acceptance of this large scarf and engagement bracelets the honor of the boy and the girl and of both families has been pledged, and this ceremony must be followed by consummation in marriage within three or four years. The girl is never supposed to know the exact date for the marriage until the day arrives, or to be present at home when preparations are made for it. It is customary for her to go to visit the woman highest in rank in her family during the preparation for the wadding festivities.

Not long ago I attended the wedding of the daughter of a wealthy commoner who was married to the son of the ruler of a state where I often visit. When I arrived at the encampment of the family the girl was away visiting her aunt. The encampment buzzed with activity. Twenty new white cone-shaped tents made of wool felt from the spring clipping had been pitched near the family tents, ready for the reception of guests.

Relatives had been invited from far and near to come to the marriage festivities. Some had already arrived when I got there; the others rode in and were welcomed soon after.

Dressed in bright silk, the girl’s relatives and immediate family made the encampment a brilliant moving mass of color. The marine blue, sapphire, olive green, purple, lavender, wisteria, and rose gowns of lay men and women, heavily embroidered with butterflies, flowers, and birds, mingled with the crimson and yellow brocades worn by the lamas.

The girl’s brother was sent to his relative’s encampment to bring her home. The aunt and her family came back with them. When the group reached the top of the hill which overlooked the encampment of the girl’s parents, she saw the preparations that had been made in her absence, was startled, and, turning her horse round, made off across the plains. But her brother soon caught up with her, seized the bridle, and pulled the horse back toward home. She then leaped from the saddle, but her cousins caught her. Matrons of the family, who had waited behind a clump of shrubs just below the hill, ran forward and closed about her in a tight circle. The most recently married woman among them flung a thick blue veil over the maid’s head. Blinded by the swathes of the veil, she was carried through the encampment and put down on the felt-padded floor of her own tent. Then her relatives withdrew, leaving only the aunt with her. The door was fastened securely on the outside.

Throughout the day and most of the night the gorgeous assembly that had gathered for the wedding feast made merry. A band of musicians strolled about playing gay music. They lingered in the great banquet tent where the father entertained the men highest in rank among the guests, or passed into the glittering throng of matrons gathered in the tent of the girl’s mother. They made their way through the entire encampment, even penetrating where the herdsmen and servants gathered round steaming bowls and full tankards.

Only in the tent where the girl lay there was darkness. At dawn the servants took tea in to her. A little while later her girl friends and younger sisters forced their way in. They sat in a circle about her and sewed the girdle of her dress fast to their own — a symbol that they thus held her in maidenhood with them.


A large party of mounted nobles rode in from the west. Clouds of dust heralded their arrival. A hundred strong, mounted on fine horses, they were a magnificent sight, clad in the most brilliant raiment the imagination of a color-loving people could conceive and the wealth of princes execute. They led a riderless white horse that arched his neck and lifted his feet high, shaking his golden bridle and rattling golden stirrups against white doeskin saddle guards.

At the hitching place the girl’s family welcomed the party from the palace. The ceremony of greeting and method of procedure were so elaborate that more than an hour of formal phrases was necessary before the last ‘You go first’ and ‘No, you; I am not worthy’ had been exchanged and all were seated in the great reception tent in the exact order of precedence — the exact place that he or she knew was his or hers by inherited right.

All the visitors were greeted and honored, save the young bridegroomelect — a slender boy of seventeen. No notice was taken of him. Ignored in silence, he was permitted to enter last and wait unobtrusively in the lowest place by the yurta door.

The representatives of the two families were seated on cushions in two rows facing each other, the highest in rank of the two households in the left and right places nearest the altar. The first of the visitors cleared his throat significantly. There was perfect silence. In sonorous tones he repeated the speech wherein has been poetized the formal words with which a Mongol daughter shall be asked for in marriage.

When he had finished, a servant knelt and presented him with a silver cup of wine on a white scarf. The wine and the scarf were accepted. Then the man of first rank in the girl’s family quoted the formal response in rolling phrases. Again the servant knelt and offered wine in a silver cup on a white scarf.

When the second speaker’s parched throat had been relieved, another man among the visitors took up the cue. After him came another answer from the drama prepared through the ages past. So on and on, with wine ceremoniously offered to each speaker and as ceremoniously accepted. Sometimes the orators were women, sometimes men.

The vocal play came to an end, and servants entered with garments carried on extended arms: underclothing of soft silk; boots of finely tanned leather, ornamented with elaborate stitch patterns; a long rich satin gown embroidered in golden thread; a beautiful sleeveless jacket — all made for the bridegroom in the home of the girl. An attendant pulled off the shy lad’s usual apparel and dressed him in this new outfit. Now he was invited by the girl’s family to come and sit on a cushion.

While food and drink were pressed upon the confused, flushed boy, deputies were dispatched for the bride. A struggle ensued in her tent, where the girls fought to hold her against her elders. Some of these girls were flung into corners, others were pushed roughly inside the door, as their friend was carried away. One, stronger than her companions, clung on even outside, until the steely grip of her fingers had to be loosened by a sharp blow.

The maid, still wrapped in the mist of the blue veil that had been flung over her the previous afternoon, was put down on the ground outside the reception tent. Here she lay, in her plain dress, soiled and wrinkled now — the dress she had worn the day she traveled home. She reminded me of a crushed blossom in the centre of that gorgeous throng.

Women lifted her to her feet, and the man highest in rank in her family knelt beside her and begged her to accept a silver bowl of milk with a lump of butter floating on the surface. Her mother raised her veil and pleaded with her to drink, reminding her that the pure white milk was symbolic of their pure love for her, while the golden butter was the token of that love’s genuineness.

The daughter humbly bent her lips to the silver brim and took a few sips. Then a red silk cape was quickly flung over her dress, and a large red hat was dropped over her blue-veiled head. Her jeweled headdress was not adjusted over her hair, but fastened round her neck so that it held the veil down even more closely than before.

The white horse was now led up. Strong arms lifted the inert girl into the golden saddle. The spirited horse snorted and reared.

Men, with hands on each side of the bridle, led the horse a few paces, while relatives on either side of the girl kept her in the saddle. All the rest of us had now mounted — all the girl’s relatives, men and women, young boys and girls, as well as all the palace party. Our horses were restless to be off. The girl was lifted down from the saddle and put into a cart, into which had been thrown soft furs, covered with a spread of red silk. A horse was fastened to this two-wheeled cart. The aunt got in with the girl. A mounted herdsman took the leading rein, and we were all off at breakneck speed over the trackless plateau, the cart that contained the bride-elect careering madly in our midst.

At the first neighbor’s encampment women rushed out. They dashed furiously in among our horses and jerked the leading rein from the herdsman’s hands. They soon had the cart stopped and gathered about the maid with words of comfort. Other women followed them out of the yurtas with tea and cakes with which they begged the girl to refresh herself. She thanked them, and made as though to leap from the cart, but her aunt struck the horse and he bounded ahead at a frightened gallop. After another hour we sighted the tiled roofs of the palace in jagged outline against the sky.

The girl was taken from the cart and put on the white horse again. Riders kept close around her, holding her in the saddle and guiding her mount. When we came to the palace we all dismounted on the green slope below the eastern gates, where tents had been made ready for the festivities.


A small altar spread over with a cloth of satin had been placed on the grass. The bridegroom and his personal attendant knelt before this altar. The bride stood near them. An official offered her a silver basin of milk in which floated butter — a token that this new household welcomed her with pure hearts and would be true to her. The girl was then taken away by the women of the palace, to rest in a private tent.

The rest of us were conducted to the places that had been arranged for our comfort. All was quiet until flute players summoned us to come for a feast.

The best viands that the state could supply were served on low tables around which we sat on brilliant cushions. Dish after dish followed in lavish abundance. As the servants brought food, the ruler of the state and his wife, the bridegroom and his brothers and their young sister, went from group to group, serving each guest, on bended knee, with a silver cup of wine. Lastly, filling the cups already six times filled, came the bride, still blinded by the blue veil and guided by the bridegroom’s eldest sister, who also served wine.

Above the clatter of crockery, the scurrying of servants, and the hum of conversation, music swelled from throats and from stringed instruments strummed with the fingers or played with a bow, like a violin. As time advanced, the wedding party grew more and more merry. Guests joined with minstrels in the singing of ballads recounting the historic romances of famous Mongolian lovers.

At sunset the lad and the maid were ceremoniously conducted to a big white felt yurta which had been prepared as a bridal chamber, and were left there with the girl’s aunt.

In the festival tents and on the sloping plain the music continued to throb with sentimental melody. At midnight a second feast was spread. Again the ruler and his wife with their three younger sons and their two daughters offered silver cups of wine to each guest on humbly bended knees, murmuring wishes for peace.

After this we all retired. Next morning tea and cakes were served in our tents, so that all who desired to do so might rest until late. For the entertainment of the more energetic, wrestling matches were staged between the prince’s soldiers and the young lamas from the state temples. Flutes announced the first feast of the day sometime past noon.

Then the bride came out from the palace and walked among the people who had gathered to pay her homage. She wore golden slippers and a long gown of lavender silk with a short white satin jacket embroidered in gold. Her head was crowned with her glossy hair arranged in smooth coils and weighted by the headdress which was both her dowry and the symbol that she was now a matron. She conducted herself with magnificent regal dignity —gracious, yet unapproachable. All of us who looked at her talked of her amazing beauty and her queenly manner.

That afternoon there was horse racing, followed by another banquet. The next day a final feast was served in mid-morning, as it is the custom in Mongolia for wedding guests to take their departure before noon on the third day of celebration.

Guests most distantly connected with the bride took leave of her first, going to bid her farewell in the bridal chamber, where she sat ready to receive them, dressed in a gown of jade green, over which her lovely pearls fell like drops of morning dew. She accepted all the congratulations with cool dignity, until at last her own family came to kiss her good-bye.

I had known her since she was a tiny child, and her father insisted that I wait to bid her farewell with her own immediate family. As we came to her, her haughty poise dropped from her like a player’s mask. In a broken voice, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she pleaded to be allowed to return to the encampment of her father, but her parents turned deaf ears to her entreaties. When she rose from her seat to follow them, they pushed her back on her royal cushion and put heavy stones on her silk skirts, to symbolize that she was fastened to her new sphere of life. They reminded her that by the common law of Mongolia every girl must fulfill the engagement she makes in company with her parents when she is fifteen years of age, and that after the wedding ceremony she must live three days and three nights with the man she has married.

The other side of this law — written so deeply in the hearts of the freedomloving Mongolian people that even an absolute monarch dare not override it — is that when the youth and the maid have risen to manly and womanly wisdom by three days’ and three nights’ experience either may end the marriage at will without explanation other than the desire to do so. After that each may live alone or marry again without any further divorce or any second marriage ceremony.


On the morning of the fourth day I rode back to the palace with the girl’s father, in company with his eldest son and his eldest brother, both lamas from the state temple. We were accompanied by an escort of mounted men who carried three cooked sheep and three big baskets of bread. The girl’s brother led a saddled riderless horse. We were received in the bridal chamber. The bride was seated on the same cushion on which she had sat when we took leave of her.

Her father knelt before her and told her that her family now offered her the opportunity to return to them. His attendants brought her three silver platters on each of which lay a whole cooked sheep and three platters heaped high with bread. He said, ‘This is a token, my daughter, that your father is both willing and able to provide for you.’

With a gesture the daughter bade her father rise to his feet and ordered the palace servants to remove the food. This was an indication that she was satisfied with her marriage and did not now wish to return home.

Marriage has no religious significance in Mongolia; it is a civil contract. Its binding force is the mere will of the man and the woman, and either one is at liberty to end it. When the marriage is dissolved soon after the wedding there has to be an adjustment of wedding expenses. If the bridegroom is the one who desires separation, he must repay the bride’s parents for the cost of their part in the wedding; if the bride is the dissatisfied party, she must refund the groom’s parents what they have spent.

In Mongolia women have equal rights with men in the regulation of affairs, with the exception that in divorce the children of a marriage remain with the father unless one or all of them are of sufficient age to decide which parent is preferred.

There is no moral censure of divorce. The Mongols reason that when a man and a woman cannot live together harmoniously they are better apart. Each may pitch his or her tents in company with relatives or alone.

The Mongol woman is quite as capable of managing the affairs of life as the man. From childhood the girl is accustomed to long intervals of time in which the men of her family are absent from the encampment, leaving the women to look after themselves. She knows how to tend the flocks and to do all the necessary things. Even in young girlhood she makes long journeys on horseback alone, seeking shelter in encampments throughout the country she crosses as independently as a boy. If she chooses to live alone, she knows how to take care of herself.

There are no restrictions concerning the remarriage of either party in a divorce. Only the first marriage is celebrated with ceremony such as I have described. In later unions the couple usually give a feast to friends and relatives at which they announce their marriage, but this is not really necessary. Often couples simply join tents and herds without even the ceremony of a celebration feast.

(Further chapters of the Duke’s Mongolian experiences will appear in the March issue)