Mongolia family system

Mongolian Family System

Mongolian Family

The family unit serves as the fundament to steppe-nomads' societies for millennials.

The family is sacred through most East-Asian cultures. Evidence can be found in the thousands of years old Chinese Folk Religion, in which an altar to the family's forefathers can be found in nearly every Chinese house, and ancestor worship is carefully practiced throughout the country. Proper familial relations form a significant part of the Analects, the 2,500 years old compilation of Confucius's teaching, which to date still set the social norms for much of the region.

A-nomadic-grandfather-bonding-with-his-grandson, Mongolia family

Nomadic practices extend familial relations from social entity to financial interdependency. A viable family can efficiently manage an autarkic household that would withstand shifts in social, sovereign, and mainly climatic circumstances typical to the wind-swept plains at which temperatures can vary from freezing -40˚C to boiling +40˚C. The base of familial relationships is Filial piety- a term referring to the inherent and deep respect to elders- from one's parents and all the way to the family's ancestors. The father officially serves as the head of the family. His role can be described as the "minister of foreign affairs". In contrast, the mother's role is somewhat of a "minister of interior", often an equivalent partner to decision making and the day-to-day functionalities.

Nomadic women at home, Mongolia family

Up until the beginning of the 20th century, Mongolian families could have traced their family routes seven generations back or even more, while noble families could show direct linkage to the "Golden Family", the line of descendants of Chinggis Khan, the forefather of the Mongolian nation. Together with many other cultural and traditional attributes that were wiped out during the 70 years' communist era, also family worship made way to worshipping the communist party's leaders. Their portraits took over the old photos and paintings of family ancestors.

Reindeer or Tsaatan (Reindeer) people of Mongolia, Mongolia family

When the family's daughters are married, they would traditionally become part of their newlywed husband's family. They would then migrate to the area where the husband's family graze their herds. When the sons are married, they would bring along their new wives, erect their "ger" (the traditional felt-made dwellings typical to the central-Asia nomads, often referred to as Yurt) in proximity to the parents' ger, and would keep their livestock in the vicinity of the family's graze. This way, several related households could share the chores involved with life on the steppes, such as guarding against prey animals, milking, shearing wool, and combing the fine cashmere fibers off the goats.

Travel-to-Mongolia,-Meet-Mongolian-nomads, Mongolia family

Traditionally, the youngest son remains living with his parents, together with his wife and children, taking care of them for the rest of their lives. When the time comes, he will inherit the entire parents' belongings.


The extended family structure forms the foundations for the larger clan. In former times, this, in turn, served as the foundation to tribal societies which Chinggis Khan had unified some 800 years ago into one nation, under one flag. Nevertheless, to these very days, family ties form the core of Mongolian society, and one could not argue that here in Mongolia, and all throughout Asia, blood is thicker than water.

Home and monastery stay

A very special way to discover the lifestyle and traditions of the Mongols is to stay a few days with nomadic families. Accompanied by a translator, for a short while you will become a nomadic family member. Grazing the herds, riding horses, and eating the local cuisine are just a small part of the whole experience. We can also make special arrangements for you to stay in a Buddhist monastery; learn more about Buddhism, understand how the lamas of this Tibetan philosophy dedicate themselves to spiritual awareness, and take time to relax.

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