Mongolian Naadam Festival


Mongols, as one of Chinese 56 ethnic minorities, live on the vast grasslands in the north. They are a mighty nomadic people, the descendants of Genghis Khan. They like riding and shooting, so it is called the nationality on the horse. Milk wine, milk tea, and dairy product are the favorite drinking for them. During the festival, milk drinking is an indispensable part of the festival celebrations. But the festival is not just a time for enjoying milk. It has profound sports significance.

The Naadam Festival is the major traditional Mongolian holiday. Naadam is a Mongolian word meaning "game" or "entertainment", the Mongolian people celebrate this festival to express their pleasure for the harvest. The annual traditional grand festival starts on the 6th lunar month and lasts for two weeks. At the end of 5th lunar month, the herdsman head for the destination to prepare for the activity, they will build the yurts, select the strong flocks and herds, and make the milk wine. On the opening ceremony, they will decorate the stage with colorful flags. The spot is beautifully decorated, filled with a joyful ambience everywhere.

Mongolian Naadam Festival culture


The Naadam Festival develops from the "Ji’ao’bao", which means the sacrifice activities. It is a distinctive event created by Mongolian people in their long-term of nomadic life. According to the Stone Inscriptions about Genghis Khan, the festival originated at AD1206, the establishment of Mongol khanate. At that time, Genghis Khan was the ruler of the Mongol Empire. He reviews his troops and responsible for the maintenance and distribution of pasture. To enhance the unity, he called the tribal leaders together to hold a party to express the friendship and pray for the next year harvest between July and August. At first, there was only one activity - Wrestling, Horse-race or the Archery. In Yuan and Ming dynasty, these three major competitions had been combined. That is the origin of Naadam Festival.



Wrestling, Horse-race and the Archery are regarded as the "three arts" in Naasam festival. They are an indispensable part of the sports competition. The winners of the three games enjoy a very high status and honorable reputation in Mongolia.

In Mongolian, they call wrestling as "BoKeBaYiLeDeHu" and the Wrestler is called “BoKeQing”. It is originally game to test the strength and mind. For Mongolian national wrestling, they enjoy their unique dress, rule and method. According to the Mongolian traditional customs, there is no division, like age, weight or region. They adopt the knock - out system to judge the winner.

There are a lot of wrestling skills; one can develop more than one hundreds actions from the basic skills, like the catch, pulling, pushing, and press. The wrestlers can catch the opponent’s shoulders, hug each other`s waist, and crawl into each other`s armpit to attack. They also can catch wrestling clothing, waist belt or the trouser belt, etc. The biggest characteristic of Mongolian wrestling is to forbid embracing the legs. Other rules are not to hit the face or pull down each other from the back. It is also forbidden to touch the eyes and ears or pull hairs, kick the belly or any part of the above the knees. Wrestlers are considered to lose if they elbow or knee touches the ground.

Horse Racing at Mongolian Naadam Festival

Horse racing

Mongolian Plateau is famous for the Mongolian horse. The Mongolian horses can run very fast and its endurance is very strong. Being as one of the “three arts”, they can run, and heavy armor endurance and strong. For growing up on the horseback, the Mongolian has special feeling to their horses. They are proud of training a strong horse. The horses for the Naadam races are selected a month before the big day.

Horse racing consists of three kinds of competition: (1) quick Marseille, it is to compete the speed of the horse, the distance varies according to the ages of the horses, between 20, 30 and 40 km. The winner is the one who reach the destination first. (2) Walk Marseille, it is to contest the steady pace of horse. (3) Performance on the horse, it is a distinctive performance on horseback.


Mongolian archery is classified as three kinds: Static shoot, on horse shoot and long shoot, the distance is respectively 25 steps, 50 steps and 100 steps. The rules are three rounds with nine arrows. Every person has three arrows per round, the scores is evaluated by the number of target hitting.

Throughout the history, wrestling, horse-race, archery have played an important role in the life of Monglian people and maintained its popularity till today. Apart from the above activities, the Polo, Equestrian, track and field and the ball games are added to Naadam Festival.

Mongolian Naadam Festival Celebrations

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