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Key words
Mongolia, cult of trees, sacred trees
About the Author
Tel.: + 7 (495) 621-18-84
12, Rozhdestvenka str., Moscow, 107031, Russian Federation
PhD (Biology), senior researcher, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences

The author wishes to thank Zh. Oyuunchimeg, N. V. Lovelius, Zh. Nerguy, B. Enkhbayar for provided information and G. A. Garmash for his color slide. 



The tree is an important component of mythological world-view of different peoples, including Mongols. The cult of trees in Mongolia from ancient to present times is discussed. Main attention is paid to the complex of sacred pine trees, which is located in the area of Shaamar Sum in Selenge Aimag, Northern Mongolia. Data for this area are given according to author’s observations in 1983–2008. These pines have been worshipped since the 19th century at least. Some narratives related to them allow understanding of their cult specificity among local people. During the Socialism period, despite official fight against this cult, worship continued to exist. After the abolishment of Socialism in the 1990s and removal of anti-religious prohibitions, sacred pines of Shaamar have become the center of a large-scale religious complex. Now they represent one of the places of interest in the country. After the death of the main cult object, the oldest «Mother-tree», another pine, which remains the largest now, that is growing not far from the former one, becomes the main object of worship, but the worship of the former tree is not stopped. The cult of trees in Mongolia now is not strictly associated with any religion, however the main association is that with Shamanism. Apparently, ancient worshipping of the «tree of the world» has been transformed there into a syncretical combination of rituals of thanksgiving, pleas and appease to «masters of place» with Shamanist, Tengrianist and Buddhist attributes. Rites associated with the worshipping of sacred trees in Mongolia are discussed in this paper.


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