Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Still Standing: Mongolian Balbals or Man Stones

Found in the western Mongolian steppes, these stone carvings of standing men are believed to be a commemorative to fallen warriors and are dated from the 6th to 8th centuries.

Also known as grave markers, the balbals vary in size and depending on the amount of erosion, you were able to still see quite a bit of the carved detail. There is something very proud about them. They spoke of courage, commitment and sacrifice. These battles must have been severe as the Mongolian warriors are well known for their fierce fighting and cunning strategies.

Most of the balbals included two rows of stones or wood stakes extending east away from the balbal (balbals always face east). Although there is still debate today about what they represent, many believe that the smaller stones and stakes are the number of men killed in that battle or possibly the number of those that attended the funeral.

Although many of the balbas have either fallen or are broken, they continue to instill the awe and respect of Mongolia's powerful and amazing history.

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