Country Focus: Mongolia (Mongol Uls in Khalkha Mongol)
The Blue Sky
By Galsan Tschinag
Translated by Katharina Rout
Originally published in Germany by Verlag, Frankfurt am Main in 1994.
My edition: Milkweed Editions, 2006
About the author: Tschinag is a Tuvan chieftain who attended college in Germany. The Blue Sky is part one of his three-part autobiography.
The Blue Sky is notable for granting the reader an inside look at the culture of the Tuvans, a tribe of nomadic sheepherders who live high in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia.
The days of winter, which seemed so short to the adults, seemed long, infinitely long to me. I was not to play but rather to take the flock to its pasture, and I was told to watch the wind, the sun, and the grass, to watch how the animals reacted to them, and to watch how each of the animals behaved. It was also important to be on my guard against eagles and wolves. Should any appear, I was told not to be afraid and to grab quickly my shepherd’s crook, which I carried over my shoulder like a gun; I was to aim it at them, produce a bang, and scream loudly.