On Sunday morning, I woke
up to hear the Baron say: “Gentleman it
is five o’clock.” He woke us up much
too early! We dressed, breakfasted from
our own supplies and before 7 a.m. we dashed off to a hill about seven miles
away, where the great feast was to be held. Dozens of blue tents had been put up.
Hundreds of Mongols in silks of reds and blues, princes with peacock
feathers in their hats and also some in purple and red robes - all the cream of
this part of Inner Mongolia had come to pay their respect to the Spirit of the
Mountain. On top of the hill was a
cairn of stones with a pole. (They call
the piles of stones in sacred places here “obos”). In front of the pile were about 25 lamas in yellow silk and
broad-rimmed hats looking like Cardinals, were chanting Tibetan music. Then the Prince, who was now in red, came
riding up the hill with horsemen following. He came and sat down in front of the lamas.
With him sat his little son aged about five years old. He had a little red hat on with a number of
pearls, a jade brooch and a brown silk coat with a design of yellow squares on
his back. He had a lama guard. The lamas sang, shouted and threw rice. Then they all marched round the obo three
times and suddenly started throwing coarse flour at each other. They roared with laughter.
They threw flour at the masses of stones,
then bombarded each other. It was just
like an old-fashioned slapstick comedy where people threw cakes at each
other. Round the obo were numbers of
offerings of meat, cheese, cakes and other delicacies! That religious ceremony over, we all
descended the hill. Lambs (sheep) had
been brought to be slaughtered and soon we were eating mutton with our fingers.
The Prince sat in his tent to
watch festivities. He was clad in
yellow with a conical hat with red threads. He was seated on a throne with a dragon design and before him is a huge
mass of cakes. Next to him on his left
sat his elder son adorned with pearls and jade jewellery playing with a smaller
pile of cakes. The number depended on
the importance. Looking out of the tent
we could see the riders and retainers who are allowed to wear peacock feathers
on their heads, which makes them very official. The button on top of the skullcap signifies rank and a direct
descendant of Genghis Khan. Before the
Prince’s tent, there is a square cloth, about 20 yards in front, directly in
line with the entrance. It is to
prevent evil spirits from entering the tent. The Prince joined the revellers and with his bow and arrow shot the bull’s-eye
Gareth at the Lama service.