Category Archives: Mongolian

Eric Machmer: Storyboard Scene from “The Secret History of the Mongols”

In the 12th century text “Secret History of the Mongols,” commissioned by Genghis Khan, a scene is described in which a warrior hit in the neck by an arrow is brought back to camp by a fellow solider. Mongols often used poisoned arrows, so, it was customary to suck the blood from arrow wounds — in this case the second person supports the first while sucking and then spitting out his blood. This scene must have been startling enough to have been included in the History.
[storyboards are  fast greyscale sketches; as a key shot this one has a few more details]

Eric Machmer: Mongolian Pietà (Animatic Close-up)

Easily the most overlooked woman in history: Ögelün, founder of the Mongol Empire, mother of Genghis Kahn. (This is a work-in-progress from an animatic pitched for Sergei Bodrov’s Mongol II; the full motion sequence will be posted here soon with an explanation of this scene.)

Ögelün’s influence became law from Vietnam to Vienna; to survive in the constant violence of what was effectively a multi-continent open-air jail, this remarkable female human being founded the largest empire ever known:

Ögelün’s shamefully anemic, spiritless Wikipedia entry desperately needs the attention of a respectful Wikipedian with free time:
(Yes there are forgotten female poets, scientists, philosophers and so on, but no one has had as lasting, long-reaching impact — and has been as intentionally neglected — as wise beautiful Ögelün. If you ever wonder what a woman means when she speaks of a person having a strong mind — study Ögelün.)
The following are passages describing her early years as written in The Secret History of the Mongols (a remarkable book originally commissioned by Genghis Kahn nearly a thousand years ago — and only translated to English within recent decades): 
~ Section 74 ~
The Taichigud kinsmen left the widowed Ögelün-üjin, with her small sons on the site of migration and moved away.
Lady Ögelün was born
an intelligent woman
she arranged her hair in braids
and wore them round her head.
And tucked up her gown skirt
running up and down
along the Onan River
picking hurtle-berries and bird cherries
nourishing her smalls sons with them.
Day and night.
The gloriously born Ögelün the Mother,
dug roots of burnet and of silver weed
with the tapered stick of spruce
to feed on them
with her intelligent sons.
The sons of Ögelün the mother
supported with the food
seasoned by the bulbs of red lily
attained to man’s estate.
The sons of prudent Ögelün provided with the food
seasoned by sorrels and senescent alliums
grew up to ascend the throne.
~ Section 75 ~
The lanky, over grown sons
nourished with the food
seasoned by linear and senescent alliums
from the beautiful Ögelün
arrived at the age of gentle minister.
They grew into fine gallants.
They said to each other
“Let us look after our mother
by angling for all and sundry fishes
when they were sitting down
on the bank of the Onan River
to repair hooks.
They blended needles into hooks
and caught salmon and grayling.
They made seines and gorges
and caught finger lingoes”
Then, with grateful heart
they fed their mother.
The Secret History of the Mongols, translated from Mongolian into English by N. Dorjgotov and Z. Erendo; edited by D. Tumurtogoo, National University of Mongolia (2007).

Eric Machmer: Tsam Dancers (Moleskine)

The little guy on the left with the artificially large head MASK — an iconic figure in Mongolian culture — is called “The Old White Man.” (This is not a racial or ethnic description; he comes from a hybrid of very old Tibetian Buddhist and native Mongolian traditions.) He is by far my favorite stylized dancing figure.