Mongol mythology

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There are many Mongol creation myths. In one, the creation of the world is attributed to a Lama. At the start of time there was only water, and from the heavens Lama came down to it holding an iron rod from which he began to stir. As he began to stir the water, the stirring brought about a wind and fire which caused a thickening at the center of the waters to form the earth.[1] Another narrative also attributes the creation of heaven and earth to a lama who is called Udan. Udan began by separating earth from heaven, and then dividing heaven and earth both into nine stories, and creating nine rivers. After the creation of the earth itself, the first male and female couple were created out of clay. They would become the progenitors of all humanity.[2]

In another example the world began as an agitating gas which grew increasingly warm and damp, precipitating a heavy rain that created the oceans. Dust and sand emerged to the surface and became earth.[2] Yet another account tells of the Buddha Sakyamuni searching the surface of the sea for a means to create the earth and spotted a golden frog. From its east side, Buddha pierced the frog through, causing it to spin and face north. From its mouth burst fire and from its rump streamed water. Buddha tossed golden sand on his back which became land. And this was the origin of the five earthly elements, wood and metal from the arrow, and fire, water and sand.[2] These myths date from the 17th century when Yellow Shamanism (Tibetan Buddhism using shamanistic forms) was established in Mongolia. Black Shamanism and White Shamanism from pre-Buddhist times survives only in far-northern Mongolia (around Lake Khuvsgul) and the region around Lake Baikal where Lamaist persecution had not been effective.

Bai-Ulgan and Esege Malan are creator deities. Ot is the goddess of marriage. Tung-ak is the patron god of tribal chiefs. The Uliger are traditional epic tales and the Epic of King Gesar is shared with much of Central Asia and Tibet. Erlig Khan (Erlik Khan) is the King of the Underworld. Daichin Tengri is the red god of war to whom enemy soldiers were sometimes sacrificed during battle campaigns. Zaarin Tengri is a spirit who gives Khorchi (in the Secret History of the Mongols) a vision of a cow mooing "Heaven and earth have agreed to make Temujin (later Genghis Khan) the lord of the nation". The wolf, falcon, deer and horse were important symbolic animals.

The sky god Tengri is attested from the Xiong Nu of the 2nd century BC. The Xiong Nu may not have been Mongol, but Tengri is common to several Siberian peoples including the Mongols.

The Epic of King Gesar (Ges'r, Kesar) is a Mongol religious epic about Geser (also known as Bukhe Beligte), prophet of Tengriism.

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