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HomeCultureMongolians Fight to Preserve a Key Part of Cultural Heritage

Mongolians Fight to Preserve a Key Part of Cultural Heritage

MURUN, KHUVSGUL PROVINCE, MONGOLIA — Together with her students, Uyanga Damdin recites the words slowly, syllable by syllable: father, mother, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent.

By drawing “family trees,” with branches representing various relatives, Uyanga and her eighth grade students are learning an unfamiliar language: the Mongolian national script.

As the traditional written language of the Mongolian people, the Mongolian script has existed for more than 800 years, going back to the time of Chinggis Khaan, founder of the Mongol empire. UNESCO has designated it part of Mongolia’s intangible cultural heritage. Yet most Mongolians do not use the script in their day-to-day lives, leaving it at risk of dying out.

But a conflict between the Chinese government and ethnic Mongolians in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of northern China, has brought renewed attention to the script, and revived efforts to save it.

“This…

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