Anne Darling Photography

The Mongolian Steppe & its People

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I visited the Inner Mongolian Steppe in 2007 following an invited from Baotou commerical bank to join a group of Chinese and foreign photographers celebrate in pictures, the Mongolian people and Mongolian culture. There followed an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing to celebrate 60 years of the establishment of the "Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region".

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This gallery is about the Inner Mongolian land and scenery, in particular the Mongolian steppe or grasslands. Read on below for background info on Mongolian culture and history or click on any of the photographs on this page to go to the gallery. If you want to start at the beginning of the slide-show, click on the very first photograph at the top of the page.

Inner Mongolia - Where, What and Who

Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region in China, bordering the area that used to be called Outer Mongolia but which is now completely independent from China and just called Mongolia, and Russia to the north. It is also sometimes referred to as Southern Mongolia. Inner Mongolia covers about 12 per cent of China's land area and has a population of about 24 million people. The capital is Hohot. The majority of people are Han Chinese, but there is a large Mongolian minority of approximately 4 million people. The official languages are Mandarin and Mongolian.

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Inner Mongolia is one part of what was originally the Mongol homeland, a huge area that also encompassed all of Outer Mongolia, and a large part of Siberia. The Great Wall of China roughly follows the southern border of Inner Mongolia. In the grasslands beyond the Great Wall and the Gobi Desert, known as the Mongolian Steppe, the Mongolian people worked as shepherds and horse breeders moving with the seasons in search of food. Each family lived in a traditional Mongolian tent known as a ger which they would dismantle and reassemble each time they moved.

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Mongolian people today speak a variety of dialects of the Mongolian language. In the towns, all street signs are bilingual showing both Mandarin Chinese and Mongolian. Mongolian peole in urban areas are using the Mongolian language less now but in rural areas their traditions have been kept intact. Inner Mongolia has retained the classic Mongol written script whereas Outer Mongolia has adopted the Cyrillic alphabet.

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Although it is referred to as the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, in fact it enjoys little or no autonomy at all. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Outer Mongolia has been free of Soviet control and is trying to reassert its nationalism. The Chinese are worried therefore that a nationalistic movement like that in Tibet and Xinjiang might also spread to Inner Mongolia so the Public Security Bureau (the Police in plain English) keeps a careful watch over the people in case there are signs of rebellion.

Click on one of the photographs to see the slide-show now or click on the link here to read: A Road to Extinction , written by a member of the Inner Mongolian People's Party on 60th Anniversary of the Establishment of "Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region".

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Click on the link to see photographs of the Geng family, urban dwellers of Inner Mongolia.

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