Once dying Mongolian epic comes to life

URUMQI, Dec. 28 — After Bada, 51, watched the animated TV series “Young Hero of Jangar”, he reached the conclusion that the Mongolian people’s “Homer” could be revitalized in his remaining years.
The Epic of Jangar, the life of the eponymous Jangar, is a tale of the defeat of evil and establishment of a utopia without war, hunger or cold.
“I see hope now of new life for the epic and the Mongolian culture it embodies, and for passing them on to the next generation,” said Bada.
A traditional singer of Jangar since he was 17, Bada used to worry about the future of “outdated songs”. He used to teach the epic at the Mongolian Middle School in the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bortala in farwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, for only 50 yuan (8.24 U.S. dollars) per class.
“The teaching was not effective. Few students were interested in learning ‘old people’s stuff’,” said Bada, quoting his students’ words.
He was even more worried when he discovered that his daughter, third grader in junior high, prefered surfing the internet to learning Jangar from him.
“Who will sing Jangar after me?” Bada would ask himself as he searched for an apprentice both talented enough to be able to recite a work of over 150,000 lines and enthusiastic enough to consider singing and teaching the epic as a lifelong career. “It was so hard to find such an apprentice,” sighed Bada.
It is not just the younger generation, but older people do not seem interested in Jangar anymore either.
At important occasions such as weddings, Mongolian people used to always invite a Jangar singer, but many now prefer western style wedding gowns and pop music. In more traditional families, they only play recordings of Jangar.
“Fewer families invite me to sing on big occasions now and they offer less money,” said Bada. Sometimes, all he gets is a meal. At other times, he may be lucky and earn 300 yuan.
In 2006, Jangar was listed as intangible culture heritage and the local government made more effort to revitalize the epic.
Bortala now has four Jangar singers including Bada. They each receive a monthly stipend of 1,000 yuan from Bole city government and a yearly subsidy of 300 yuan from the regional government.
Bortala promotes Jangar in primary and secondary schools to cultivate “little singers of Jangar.” The prefecture also holds Jangar singing contest each year.
“My student Dilika from the Mongolian Middle School won first prize in a teenagers’ Jangar contest this year and the school has promised me a classroom of my own,” said Bada happily.
Wuyunhua, another of Bada’s students, loves popular songs, but appreciates Jangar’s narrative style as well. “My writing skills improved after I learned Jangar,” she said.
Bada feels his hard work has finally paid off, but he still has concerns for Jangar’s future.
“I hope that after watching the cartoon, people won’t have the imprssion that the epic of Jangar is only for kids,” said Bada, emphasizing that the epic is a serious art work and the epitome of the culture and history of the Mongolian people.[db:内容2]

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