Deer | Mongolia

Name in Original Language

Буга

Area Where Played

Mongolia

History

The “Deer” give-away game that is widely spread among Mongolians is an ancient, traditional special game that reflected the hunting culture of Mongolians. The tradition of the game “Deer” spread among the Mongolian nationals and tribes is rich and we have many versions such as “Calf deer”that 12 pieces play against one deer, “Soyondoi deer” (5-year-old) that 49 pieces play against 4 deer, “Young deer” that 60-64 pieces play against 4 deer, “Hart (3-year-old deer)”that 60 pieces play against 6 deer and “Wild deer” that 80 pieces play against 8 deer. The Inner Mongolians also have many different versions. For instance, in the version inherited among the torguud of Eznee, it has the specialty that 24 deer play against 2 wolves.
Inner Mongolians name it as “Deer chirp”. In the board with 25squares, Eznee torguuds play with 24 deer and 2 wolves. They name the board of game as “grassland” and the squares of board as “base”, the “bad place” as “small fence” and “good place” as “big fence”.

Detailed Description

The “Deer” give-away game that is widely spread among Mongolians is an ancient, traditional special game that reflected the hunting culture of Mongolians. The tradition of the game “Deer” spread among the Mongolian nationals and tribes is rich and we have many versions such as “Calf deer”that 12 pieces play against one deer, “Soyondoi deer” (5-year-old) that 49 pieces play against 4 deer, “Young deer” that 60-64 pieces play against 4 deer, “Hart (3-year-old deer)”that 60 pieces play against 6 deer and “Wild deer” that 80 pieces play against 8 deer. The Inner Mongolians also have many different versions. For instance, in the version inherited among the torguud of Eznee, it has the specialty that 24 deer play against 2 wolves. Inner Mongolians name it as “Deer chirp”. In the board with 25squares, Eznee torguuds play with 24 deer and 2 wolves. They name the board of game as “grassland” and the squares of board as “base”, the “bad place” as “small fence” and “good place” as “big fence”.

Playing method: place the 2 wolves on the mouth of fences of both sides. 8 deer are positioned on the 8 bases surrounding the center and wolf shall make first move. If the wolf jumps over one deer by the direct way, it takes the deer. It cannot jump over two deer. It cannot move by the curved ways. If there are no deer to take, it shall move to only one base. In moving to one base, it can go by any ways. When one person holding a wolf jumps forward by one, a person holding the deer also move one deer. Butshould carefully think where to go. Similar to this, wolf should also carefully think where to go and which to take. If 16 deer are moved, move them by one base each and fence off the wolf. When fencing off the wolf, it can decide to fence off by two sides. There are methods to fence off directly in the small and big fences and/or in two corners of other side. Also, if a female side became a wolf, it is said as “ear is clamped”, and” earrings are worn” and enclose in the fence corners (ears) and in the second base (collarbone) from the edge of the square; if a male side became a wolf, it is said as “balls are clamped” and enclose in the bases of both sides of the square corners.

It is played by mainly enclosing the wolves in obstacle places and fences. When playing the deer, a person holding the deer cannot move the deer in the grassland before finishing the deer on hands. Also, it is prohibited to move the steed (wolf or deer) between two bases permanently. If it moves four times, it should move another steed. If the deer makes the wolves without a place to move, the party holding the deer shall win or assumed as judged.If it can enclose two wolves completely, the judged rate would be higher. There can be a case that a person holding the deer and good playing skills win by enclosing two wolves during positioning the 16 deer. If a wolf takes more than 8 deer, it will be not easy to enclose. [Altankhot. Definition of customs and traditions of Eznee torguud].

Equal number of pieces (soldiers) fight from both sides in the give-away game reflected the specialty of wars and fights to expand its land and territory; the peculiarity of the “Deer” game reflected and inherited the hunting culture is that the inequality of numbers is not so relative to the equality of power, but, the obstacles and difficulties of the place and the age of deer is greatly relative. It can be differently seen from the special names such as “Mountain deer”, “Steppe deer”, “Mountain and steppe deer” or “Calf deer”, “Soyondoi (5-year-old) deer” and “Young deer”.

And in one article written by Kh. Darambazar, it states that “When playing the game of “Small deer”, two persons become opposing parties and draw lots to decide who will start. Line-up the ten white and ten black dogs and the one who took the white dogs shall start moving any of the five dogs in the front line of the ten dogs only in forward direction by one square. Then, the opposite player shall move any of the dogs in front line similarly. In case if the dog of either side moves to the neighboring square of the opposite dog and there is a free square on the next side of opposing dog, it takes the dog. It is prohibited to pass when it has the possibility to take. If the either side has the several possibilities to take, it shall take them once after moving the dog to the final square of taking. In doing so, it should go over one dog only once. As for each player, the squares in the outer edge of board are named as the square to become a “dam”. A dog that reached any of the opposite player’s squares becomes “queen”. Queen is an ancient Mongolian word meaning as tiger. It is the name that is given to the dogs. The dog that became a queen has the right to move to any directions by the straight line by skipping several squares and take the dogs.If the “dog” did not stop on the square to become a dam and took by moving in opposite direction, it will not be counted as becoming a queen. The dog that became a queen shall have the right of queen after the opposite side moves by one. The game continues in abovementioned ways and the player left the other player with only one dog or checkmated the residue of dogs will win.” [Kh.Darambazar. Youths’ Truth,]. In this case, it is interesting that it is played by moving the piece and not moving the wolf like torguud, but it is moving the dog, however, the special change is observed that the deer, a hero of the game is lost and the fight between the dogs, especially, between the equal number of white and black dogs arises.

In the “Deer”, the number of the squares in board is vital similar to many other games with boards and as looking at versions noted in the book “Games with boards of Mongolia”” of N. Namjildorj (1963) by listing them by the number of squares, there is a version with 129 squares that is made by combining the 4 boards of mountain and steppe deer.

The list includes:
– 25 squared: Fourdeer \4 deer, 20 pieces\
– 29 squared: Calfdeer \1 deer, 12 pieces\
– 33 squared: Mountain deer \Balddeer\ 2 deer, 22 pieces\
– 35 squared: Mountain and steppe deer \2 deer, 21-24 pieces\
– 37 squared: Steppe deer \2 deer, 21-24 pieces\
– 75 squared: Similar deer \6 deer, 48 pieces\
– 69 squared: Pair deer \4 deer, 49 pieces\
– 65 squared: Soyondoi deer(5 year old) \4 deer, 49 pieces\
– 89 squared: Youngdeer \6 deer, 60 pieces\
– 97 squared: Hartdeer: \4 deer, 60- 64 pieces\
– 101 squared: Deer of high mountain \4 deer, 64 pieces\
– 121 squared: Wilddeer \8 deer, 80 pieces\
– 129 squared: Greatdeer \8 deer, 80 pieces\

We inherited many versions of deer game as mentioned above. This time, we aimed at clarifying the customs, symbols and meaning of this gameby observing comparing the 35 squared version that are currently played in Shine-Ider and Galt soums of Khuvsgul aimag to some versions of deer game. As for this version that we selected, it is a “Mountain and steppe deer” and it is played by putting 24 dogs against two deer. As for the playing rule, 8 dogs are put first and a person holding a deer shall start moving and the goal of the person holding the deer is to eliminate as possible as many dogs from the game and the goal of a person holding the dogs is to catch the deer by enclosing to the corner with as possible as a few losses of dogs. The first eight dogs lurk for the deer in the river valley and close the ways of deer, then the deer starts to destroy the dogs. Person holding the dogs puts the additional dogs following the eight dogs if required and if there are no dogs left, it moves the dogs on the board to enclose the deer into the cliff. Good hunter wins by using the tricks and wise minds while the un experienced kids play by chasing with many dogs.

The tricks such as “cliff ways” and “deer ways” exist in this game and there are also, the famous winning methods such as “equal load” to win by 12 pieces or dogs, “listening by ears” to win by 15 pieces, and “spit” that wins with 17 pieces. This can be said as the hunting training that is exchanging the hunting methods and experiences on the one hand. In the mountainous area, it is said that the people used the dogs to enclose to the cliff when hunting the deer in 1920s-1930s. Also, the hunters tell that in darkhads of Khuvsgul, people used the methods exactly the same as playing the deer until recently in 1960s and had dogs trained as “deer dogs”.1N. Namjildorj firstly informed that there is an ancient song related to the “Deer” game and had published the words of songs “Western high mountains”, “Deer of High mountain” and “Deer of High Blue”. When speaking about the 101 squared “Deer of High mountain” where the 64 pieces are played against four deer, he stated that:

When riding for hunting
Wild hunting animals
Following the steeps
In the Khentii and
Khangai mountains
Riding through coasts of
Kherlen, Onon, and Tuul rivers
The deer of high mountain
Calls during the dawn
The deer with black stripes
Breeding in the hill.
From far river coast
Red and yellow are recognized.
Ancient Mongolian man
Sang songs like this.
Going back home
Recalling the hunting deer
Drawing the deer squares and
Playing the deer game.[N.Namjildorj 1963,120]

The game “Deer” with board inherited among many Mongolian tribes is a reflection of the hunting culture of Mongolians and when surveying the game in detail, it became clear that it is related to ancient mythology and many types of oral literaturessuch as epic poem about animals, folk songs, spells and mantras, presenting words and expressing one set of ideas. The tradition of singing the deer song before playing this game is a tradition with spelling features to soothe the nature and earth and deities of nature and soothing the action of hunting the deer which is the ancient symbolizingand spirit animal. The traditional Mongolian games are deeply related to the farm they were engaged in and teaching and disciplining their children. The deer game represents the hunting culture of Mongolians and has the meanings of chasing out the hunting animals (deer) hidden in the forest by hunter dogs and make them without the passages and catch them in the trap. Moreover, the games are crafted using the animal originated leathers, hairs and bones and many methods such as small cattle ankle bones, wooden shape crafting, and casting by the leads and so on. There is a method of playing by representing the deer by white ankle bones and the dogs (pieces) by the black ankle bones. In some counties, it is laid in horse side of ankle bones up to represent the deer and sheep side up to represent the dogs. Scientist researcher G. Sukhbaatar told that “This game might exist not less than hundred years from now as looking at the answers of elders as “we used to play this game when we were a child” when asked from them about when this game is originated. D.Tsogbadrakh stated in his article “Relationship of the nomadic traditional games with boards to the chess revolution” as “The game of deer was one of the games widely spread among the central Asian nomads in the 5th century and it is obvious that it spent several centuries to spread like that”. D.Tsogbadrakh mentioned in his article about the relationship of the Mongolian traditional game with boards, especially, the deer game to the chess origins that is called as the king of the game with boards. In the creature named “History of chess” (1860), D. Forbes assumed the origin of chess as it is originated in India 5000 years ago. If the chess is originated from thatgame by being evolved, it is possible that the below mentioned game might be originated before 5000 years from now.

Bibliography:
1. Namjildorj N., Mongolian /boarded/ games. Second Volume. Ulaanbaatar,1966.
2. Sukhbaatar G., Children’s games of Dariganga. Ulaanbaatar, 1962
3. Uderpil Ts., The base of pedagogy of Mongolian folk games. Ulaanbaatar, 1978
4. www.//http:mongolchess.com
5. Badamkhatan S., Mongolian ethnography,2nd volume. Ulaanbaatar, 2012
6. MUM. Researches on nomadic heritage,№11. Ulaanbaatar, 2011

Rules

Playing method: place the 2 wolves on the mouth of fences of both sides. 8 deer are positioned on the 8 bases surrounding the center and wolf shall make first move. If the wolf jumps over one deer by the direct way, it takes the deer. It cannot jump over two deer. It cannot move by the curved ways. If there are no deer to take, it shall move to only one base. In moving to one base, it can go by any ways. When one person holding a wolf jumps forward by one, a person holding the deer also move one deer. But should carefully think where to go. Similar to this, wolf should also carefully think where to go and which to take. If 16 deer are moved, move them by one base each and fence off the wolf. When fencing off the wolf, it can decide to fence off by two sides. There are methods to fence off directly in the small and big fences and/or in two corners of other side. Also, if a female side became a wolf, it is said as “ear is clamped”, and” earrings are worn” and enclose in the fence corners (ears) and in the second base (collarbone) from the edge of the square; if a male side became a wolf, it is said as “balls are clamped” and enclose in the bases of both sides of the square corners.
It is played by mainly enclosing the wolves in obstacle places and fences. When playing the deer, a person holding the deer cannot move the deer in the grassland before finishing the deer on hands. Also, it is prohibited to move the steed (wolf or deer) between two bases permanently. If it moves four times, it should move another steed. If the deer makes the wolves without a place to move, the party holding the deer shall win or assumed as judged. If it can enclose two wolves completely, the judged rate would be higher. There can be a case that a person holding the deer and good playing skills win by enclosing two wolves during positioning the 16 deer. If a wolf takes more than 8 deer, it will be not easy to enclose. [Altankhot. Definition of customs and traditions of Eznee torguud]. Equal number of pieces (soldiers) fight from both sides in the give-away game reflected the specialty of wars and fights to expand its land and territory; the peculiarity of the “Deer” game reflected and inherited the hunting culture is that the inequality of numbers is not so relative to the equality of power, but, the obstacles and difficulties of the place and the age of deer is greatly relative. It can be differently seen from the special names such as “Mountain deer”, “Steppe deer”, “Mountain and steppe deer” or “Calf deer”, “Soyondoi (5-year-old) deer” and “Young deer”.