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Ritual under Change: Mongolian Influences on Horse Races and Mountain Divinity Worship in Tibet

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The article outlines the Mongolian influences on the biggest horse race festival in Nagchu prefecture in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

Since old times these horse races have been closely linked to the worship of the local mountain deity by the patrilineal nomadic clans of the South-Eastern Changthang, the North Tibetan plain. In the seventeenth century the West Mongol chieftain Güüshi Khan shaped the history of Tibet. To support his political claims, he enlarged the horse race festival's size and scale, and had his troops compete in the different horse race and archery competitions in Nagchu. Since then, the winners of the big race are celebrated side by side with the political achievements and claims of the central government in power.


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