Photos of the Naadam Festival, Mongolia

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The Naadam Festival

The annual Naadam Festival is the greatest celebration of Mongolian culture, and is held during summer in every town and village. It is a great opportunity for people to show off their traditional dress, the "deel", the heavy cloak worn by both men and women, with a large silk belt. The largest Naadam is held during the National Holiday from 11 – 13 July in Ulaanbaatar, but in the smaller events held in the outlying towns it is possible to get closer to the action. There are colourful parades, traditional dances and performances of traditional music.

Officers marching
 
Mother and daughter
 
Awards and medals
 
Mongolian wrestling
 
Getting advice
 
Wrestling dance
 
Traditional costumes
 
''Devee'' dance
 
Young horseman
 
Quad bike ride
 
Sitting on a camel
 
Traditional wrestling
 
Wrestling bout
 
Soldiers on horseback
 
Traditional soldiers
 
Shooting arrow
 
Carrying the banners
 
Posing for a photo
 
Boy playing Morin Khuur
 
Boys with Morin Khuur
 
Boys wrestling
 
Girl with Morin Khuur
 
Playing Morin Khuur
 
Morin Khuur player
 
Morin Khuur orchestra
 
Traditional dancers
 
Mongolian warriors
 
Mongolian troops
 
Troops on horseback
 
Mongolian costumes
 
Costume parade
 
Women's costumes
 
Morin Khuur orchestra
 
Playing the Morin Khuur
 
Children dancing
 
Large crowd
 
Presentation wrestling
 
Mongolian wrestlers
 
Wrestling dance
 
Traditional archery
 
Women archers
 
Taking aim
 
Boy jockeys
 
Mongolian wrestling
 
Wrestling finals
 
The winning team
 
The winner
 
Ready for a horse race
 
Mongolian archery
 
Morin Khuur
 
Mongolian wrestlers
 
Start wrestling
 
Mongolian contortion
 
Winning the match
 
Going for a horse race
 
Shooting an arrow
 
Careful aim
 
Horse race finish
 
Wrestling match
 
Wrestlers' dance
 

The word "Naadam" simply means "games" and revolves around what is called "the three manly games": Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery. In spite of the name, women now also participate in archery and girls in horse racing. But not in wrestling: the wrestlers wear an open-fronted red or blue jacket, called "jodag"; the story goes that long ago a wrestler defeated all others and after that ripped open the jodag, revealing her breasts: it was a woman. Since then, the wrestler's chest must be seen.

The horse races are held on a track of around 10 kilometres long and the jockeys are always young boys (and sometimes girls), relatives of the owner's horses; they can ride at an early age. In the archery competitions the archers, using a bow made of layered horn, bark and wood and arrows from willows with bird-of-prey feathers, shoot at targets on a wall.

These photos are from the Naadam Festivals in Darkhan, Choibalsan and a "mini-Naadam" held for tourists at Guru Camp in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park near Ulaanbaatar.