Saban, a Mongolian horse festival
The ancestors of Ewenke people originally lived in the forests northeast of Lake Baikal and along the Shileke River. They mainly engaged in fishing, hunting and breeding reindeer. Throughout history Mongols have lived as nomads and horse-riding has been an essential part of their lives. Later, the Ewenke people continually moved east, living and mixing together with the Mongolians, Dahaners, Hans and Oroqens. The Ewenke are the only ethnic minority in China who raise deer, and reindeer plays an essential part in the Ewenke’s daily lives. The Ewenke once wandered about Inner Mongolia and parts of Heilongjiang Province, but have been mostly sendentary since the 1950s due to government control. In Manchu, “those who go on horseback” are called moringga or “those [who go] on foot” are yafahan. In Chinese, those “ with reindeer” are shilubu, those “with horses” are shimabu, and those “with dogs” are shiquanbu. Mongolian riders capture horses in Ewenke Qi, an Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of north China and hold a horse culture festival called Sabin, which means “peace or merry. Up to 40,000 people camp in tents on the steppes for this festival. During the yearly roundup of wild Mongolian horses, skilled riders attempt to capture the horses with a loop on the end of a long pole. There are also huge horse races at the festival, where massive numbers of riders race over long distances on the natural terrain. Another major sporting competition at this festival is köräş (Tatar wrestling). Wrestlers use towels and the aim is to knock down the opponent. Usually young boys start the competition. At the end of the festival, the main event is the köräş finals, where the winner is declared the batır (hero of the festival). In the picture below, Ewenke falconers demonstrate their horsemanship for the spectators.