Collection Description

Brief Culture Description

Culture Name

Inner Mongolia

Culture Description

Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) is an ethnically diverse region. Mongols, the focus of the collection, constitute only slightly more than 11 percent of the population of the IMAR. Once nomadic herders, a majority of Mongols are now farmers. They speak Mongolian, an Altaic language similar to Turkish and Manchu.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --Central Asia



OWC Code


Collection Information

Number of Documents


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Number of Pages


Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF Collection of Ethnography and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

There are fifteen documents in the Inner Mongolia collection. A general handbook of Inner Mongolia geography, history, and culture was published by the Far Eastern and Russian Institute (1956, no 1.) The earliest works in the collection are by the Catholic priest Father Kler who lived among the Ordos Mongolians in the 1920s and 30s. He wrote articles on hunting practices (Kler 1941, no. 7); sickness, death, and burials (Kler 1936, no. 10) and birth, infancy, and childhood (Kler 1938, no. 6). Chang (1933, no. 14) provides an economic assessment and prognosis of Mongolia in the 1930s. Owen Lattimore (1934, no. 12) wrote a political ecology of the region, prior to the Japanese occupation in 1932. Two translated Japanese studies examine health and living conditions (Hikage 1938, no. 3), and housing, clothing and diet (Izumi 1939, no. 4.) Cammann (1945, no. 11) reports on his 1945 travels in the Ordos and Gobi desserts and Houtai plain. Three works examine the twentieth-century Han colonization of the region (Cressy 1932, no. 8; Lattimore 1932, no. 9; Pasternak and Salaff 1993, no. 18.) Sneath (2000, no 17) examines the history of Chinese government policies imposed on Mongolian pastoral society from the pre-Chinese Revolutionary period up to the post-Mao period. Jankowiak (1993, no 16) writes an engaging urban ethnography of Huhhot and Bulag (2002, no. 17) examines how the contradictions and tensions of vying Chinese and Mongolian nationalisms play out in socialist Inner Mongolia.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in the collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

The culture summary was written by William Jankowiak in May 2005. We thank Paula Sabloff for recommending references for the collection. Ian Skoggard wrote the Synopsis, and John Beierle wrote the indexing notes, in May 2005.

Overview by

Ian Skoggard

Collection Indexing Notes

AIL -- household - use HOUSEHOLD (592) and EXTENDED FAMILIES (596)

banner -- Manchu military and administrative unit - use DISTRICTS (634)

brigade -- production and administrative unit - use TOWNS (632)

cadre -- communist party official -- use TEACHERS (875)

DANWEI -- administrative and production unit -- use STATE ENTERPRISE (475) and TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)

gentility -- use ETIQUETTE (576)

GER-- house, yurt -- use DWELLINGS (342)

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) -- use POLITICAL MOVEMENTS (668)

GUANXI -- non-kin social relationships based on mutual interest -- use GIFT GIVING (431) and FRIENDSHIPS (572)

HEQIN -- peace marriage -- use BASIS OF MARRIAGE (581), INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (648), and PEACEMAKING (728)

HOTONS (HOT, HOT-AILS) -- group of pastoral households -- use PASTORAL ACTIVITIES (233) and HOUSEHOLDS (592)

intellectual -- use TEACHERS (875)

lama -- Tibetan Buddhist priest and monk -- use PROPHETS AND ASCETICS (792) and PRIESTHOOD (793)

league -- political unit originally based on tribal unit -- use DISTRICTS (634)

people's commune -- production and administrative unit -- use DISTRICTS (634)

QINGMING -- spring grave sweeping ceremony -- use MOURNING (765)

sanga -- Buddhist congregation -- use CONGREGATIONS (794)

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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