Mongolians have a rich tradition of games and toys. According to historical records, the ancestors of the Mongols, the Hünnü people, played games like “Blown rumen shooting” or “Rabbit Hunting” (in which riders carry a blown rumen fastened with a string while others shoot at it from a distance measured as 52-bows while riding at full swing. The one who first hits the target wins) and “Wheel of Chambal”.
Mongolian traditional folk games are an outstanding intangible heritage that originated from hundreds of years of nomadic experience, which has been maintained and re-created from generation to generation. The Mongolian folk ankle-bone, chess, and finger games are structured to educate and raise children with their deep meaning for developing the mind. They require no special equipment, are easily accessible, and are well-adjusted to the nomadic ways of life, as well as being accessible to people of all ages even in modern time.
There are a variety of mobile games, like “Climbing A Tree”, “Dangling”, “Bouncing”, “Out-leap”, “Running After”, “Hide and Seek”, “Hobbling”, “Balancing”, “Throw White Stick
Wood”, “Compete by Power”, “Step Over the Stick”, “Sit in the Single Foot Down”, “Who Will Throw Far Away?”, “Catch A Ball”, “Who Is the Fastest?”, “The Best Throw”, and “Stand Up Carrying the Hands Behind the Back”, as well as games that have positive educational and behavioral impacts on thinking, mental keenness, and perception. These games include ankle-bone games, finger guessing (khuruudakh), finger- counting in a tune (dembeedekh), various puzzle games, chess, and dominos (zendmene). Also, there are various games for inspiring livelihood and labour, including building
a ger (traditional dwelling), planting of plants or crops, horse racing, and herding livestock. Among the games, there are also types for developing vocal and language skills such as “Quizzing Contest” (dairaltsaan), “Counting 32 White Flagons” (32 Tsagaan lonkh toolokh) and other twisters. Mongolian folk-games have the following functions:• To display latent talent;
• To develop thinking capacity and ways of living;
• To devote leisure time to education in a proper way;
• To encourage individual players to work in a collective manner rather than an individual one, thus cultivating a collective atmosphere; and
• To encourage the healthy and long life cheered up by joy and happiness to players.
Mongolian folk games are well-suited to traditional nomadic ways of life and with the Mongolian seasons and weather. It is distinctive that game equipment uses different types of raw materials from livestock, such as shank, pastern, marrowbones, anklebone, and other bones, as well as the rumen. Mongolians are the people who arrange their labor and leisure well. That is why there are phrases such as:
“Too much playing is bad for the head;
Too short a skirt is bad for the dog”
“Limiting your playing is better,
The head to be picked is better”
“Words are superfluous;
Cows move furthest away”
Such sayings are still in use today.