Mongolia, a landlocked country in East Asia, is known for its vast steppes and a traditional way of life deeply rooted in nomadic culture.

In this unique environment, resources can be scarce, but the Mongolian people have learned to adapt and make use of what nature provides.

One such resource is dried dung, often referred to as “argal” in Mongolian. While it might sound unusual to some, dried dung serves several essential purposes in the lives of the Mongolian nomads.

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1. Fuel for Cooking and Heating

One of the most significant ways that Mongolians use dried dung is as a source of fuel for both cooking and heating.

In the harsh Mongolian winters, temperatures can plummet to extreme lows. To combat the cold, Mongolian families rely on stoves known as “ger stoves” that burn dried dung as a primary fuel source.

These stoves not only provide warmth but are also used for cooking meals. Dried dung, when properly dried and stored, burns efficiently and can sustain a fire for an extended period.

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2. Animal Husbandry

Mongolia’s traditional nomadic way of life revolves around livestock, including horses, yaks, camels, and sheep.

Dried dung is used as a key component in the construction of their traditional circular tents, known as “gers” or “yurts.”

The walls of these gers are often constructed with wooden frames and layers of felt. Dried dung is used to insulate the walls and provide extra protection from the elements.

3. Medicinal and Cultural Uses

Dried dung has found its place in Mongolian traditional medicine as well. Some Mongolian herders believe in its healing properties, using it to treat minor ailments and as a poultice for wounds.

While modern medicine has made its way into Mongolia, traditional practices like these continue to be passed down through generations.

4. Agricultural Fertilizer

In rural Mongolia, where agriculture is essential to livelihoods, dried dung is valued as a natural fertilizer.

It’s rich in nutrients and can improve soil quality, making it an eco-friendly option for Mongolian farmers.

Many families keep their livestock close to their fields, allowing the animals to graze and naturally fertilize the land, which includes depositing dung that will eventually be collected and used.

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5. Environmental Considerations

The use of dried dung aligns with Mongolia’s nomadic culture, emphasizing a deep connection with nature and a minimal-waste lifestyle.

Since wood is scarce in many regions of Mongolia, relying on dried dung as a fuel source helps to preserve the few trees that exist. It’s a sustainable and eco-friendly choice for a country where protecting the environment is of utmost importance.

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In conclusion

The use of dried dung in Mongolia reflects the adaptability and resourcefulness of the Mongolian people in a challenging environment. It’s not just a matter of necessity; it’s deeply ingrained in their culture and way of life.

Dried dung serves as a testament to their enduring connection to their nomadic traditions and their ability to make the most of what nature provides.

Mongolians have mastered the art of using dried dung in various aspects of their lives, from keeping warm during harsh winters to constructing their traditional gers.

They have also found ways to use it in agriculture and even in traditional medicine, all while respecting their environment and minimizing waste.

This resourceful approach to life in the Mongolian steppes is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of this unique culture.

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