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Aobao Worshipping

Publish Time:2014-01-20 Author:ftwljsb Click:705

  Aobao is also called “Naobao” and “Ebo” which are literal translations of Monglian and mean “pile”. It is stone piles or soil piles stacked by people. Mostly, it is built on the top of mountain or hill, in cone shape and more than ten meters high. Seen from far, they look like steeples, uprising into the sky.


  Aobao is the outcome of social production and practices of herdsmen in ancient time. As the steppe is broad and endless and the sky is connected with earth, it is difficult to identify directions and roads and border is obscure. Consequently, people found a method, stacking stones into piles to make signs. It can be seen that Aobao was originally used for identifying directions, roads, and indicating administrative divisions. However, it gradually becomes the place of worshipping the God of Mountain and God of Road in the long history.

  Worshiping mountain, Aobao, heaven, and fire had been popular in ancient “Donghu" times and it was tradition courtesy of the Mongolians and an important item of patriarchal clan system. It is said that there were four kinds of worshipping courtesies: worshipping with blood, worshipping with wine, worshipping with fire, and worshipping with jade.

  Herdsmen of ancient times considered the livestock on which they lived as the gifts given by heaven and earth, therefore, they had to skill the cow, horse, and sheep to sacrifice to Aobao. As killing the livestock shed blood, therefore, it was called “worshipping with blood”. After the Yellow Hats became popular, Lama Living Buddha thought that worshipping with blood is filthy and evil, and they recommended worshipping with dairy food instead.

  Splash fresh milk, cream, and milk wine drop by drop in front of Aobao to pray for happiness and safety, and this is called “worshipping with wine”.

  The Mongolians think that fire is the cleanest thing and it can drive away devils. Therefore, the Mongolians of Hexigten will burn dry branches or cattle manure in front of Aobao and each family will come close to the fire and speak out their family names, present offerings, and throw the meat and dairy food into the fire, the vigorous the fire is, and the better it will be. Such kind of sacrifice is called “worshipping with fire”.

  In worshipping with jade, jade is the offering. Since jade was expensive, no body used jade gradually. In recent years, some people found red jades at some mountains of Hexigten, and whether these jades are the offerings of ancient people for worshipping Aobao is still pending.

  There are Aobaos at every place of Inner Mongolians. In the past, each league and banner had their own public big Aobao, and rich people had their own “Aobao”. The number also differed, some were single Aobao, and some might be Aobao groups composed of 7 or 13 Aobaos. People going outside will dismount and pay respect to Aobao to pray for safety when they meet Aobao, and as well as to add several stones or some earth to the Aobao to pray for luck.

  Aobao worshipping in Hexigten is mainly public worshipping. They have fixed Aobao, namely the Five Hairihan (Aobao) named in Yuan dynasty, which is the holy place for sacrifice of the Mongolians of the banner. The Five Hairihan: means Saihan Hairihan (current Saihan Dam), Taogao Hairihan (current Tuohezhuizi Mountain), Galadesitai Hairihan (within the territory of Reshui), Baiyinchagan Hairihan (current Dali Town), and East Hairihan (Bayangaole). It is located at the Baiyinzhurihe Aobao within the territory of Hexigten and is the badge Aobao of the banner and a symbolic Aobao. Aobao worshipping is most popular in Saihan and Bayan. Saihan was the sacrifice place of Hun in ancient times. It is recorded in East China History that, in autumn of 1810 (15th year of JiaQing’s reign, Emperor Renzong, Aisin- Gioro Yu Yeyan wrote a poem Watch Xing’an Mountain:

  Xing’an is in my vision but I cannot go there,
   It is towering the northwest and connects with the sky.
   The nine passes are grand, and the watch tower in the forest look like a jade
   Clouds pile up and golden wind flows.
   Its honor is as the Five Famous Mountain and it is the work of God,
   It towers into the sky and connects with heaven.
   Protect the mountain in winter and bath it in pool,
   Peaks, mounts, and groups of arches constitute the grand mountain.
  He ordered that, “when rainy season comes, ask the courtesy officer to discuss about the sacrifice ceremony to pray for peace. It is a ceremony of four towns, and sacrifice in spring and autumn." Later on, people stacked Saihan Aobao, built Yuanshan Temple at Guoren Town, set up Siahan Buddha, and offered sacrifice in spring and autumn. In late Qing dynasty and the Republic of China, the holy fire of sacrifice moved to Baiyinzhurihe Aobao, and the date of sacrifice is May 13 of the lunar year.

  Aobao worshipping is the most ceremonious and common sacrifice activity of the Mongolians and generally held in summer when water and grass are abundant, cow and sheep are fat and strong, and climate is comfortable.

  Before the liberation, sacrifice activity of Baiyinzhurihe Aobao was very popular. On May 13 of the lunar year, Baiyinzhurihe Aobao is full of cypress and red willow, and in the center, Tianma Buddha flag will be set up, being surrounded by colorful flower ornaments. Put on dairy food, milk rice, pastries, and nine whole sheep. At that time, Zhasake of each banner will come, wearing rich attire, and burn the incense and toast personally. They will lead the civilians to worship on bended knees and pray “God of Mountain bless us, give use good weather for the crops, prosperous livestock, free of disaster and disease, and good luck.” Lama will play music and patter. Herdsmen will kneel down and pray, and then splash wine to the Aobao and present dairy food. After the liberation, sacrifice stopped. In spring of 1987, the 10th Living Buddha Panchen, Master Eerdeniquejijianzan, donated a golden Buddha figure to Bayanzhuerhe Mountain, and the sacrifice on May 13 recovered again. At this time of every year, herdsmen will come from all directions to attend the sacrifice.

  Many herdsmen even spend the night in mountains, and this shows their piety. At midnight of May 13, incense is burnt around the Aobao. Herdsmen kneel down in front of the Aobao, praying, worshipping Buddha and God of Mountain. They present delicate hada and dairy. Lamas read the sutra and sacrifice scripture. After Lamas circles the Aobao three times from left to right, herdsmen start circling the Aobao and splashing wine to safrice, praying for favorable weather, prosperous livestock, safety, and good luck. Lamas keep reading the scripture and the atmosphere is sacred. In ancient times, women of the Mongolians of Hexigten were forbidden to go to worship Aobao, otherwise, it was considered as violation to Gods. At that time, National Affair Committee of the banner and Somo will organize Nadam Fair, wrestling, racing, arrow shooting, commodity exchange, and performances. The fair will last for three days and is very busy.

  Sacrifice of the Mongolians originates from the primitive worship of ancient times. After religion was introduced, it started to have religious features. Aobao worshipping is a public gathering and sacrifice with Aobao and God of Aobao as the idol.

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