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Special Feature

Turning Indigenous Sacred Sites into Intangible Heritage: Authority Figures and Ritual Appropriation in Inner Mongolia

Aurore Dumont
p. 19-28

Abstract

Oboo cairns are sacred monuments worshipped by minority peoples in Inner Mongolia. The inclusion of oboo worship on China’s national list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2006 has caused negotiations and innovations in different social and ritual strata of local societies. Going from provincial decision-making to the local interpretation of heritage classification, this article examines how the indigenous intelligentsia and ordinary people appropriate oboo to make them valuable and powerful sacred monuments.

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Editor's notes

Manuscript received on 23 February 2021, accepted on 10 August 2021.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on September 2022.

Outline

Introduction
A sacred site for worshipping local deities on contested territory
Oboo ranking: From heritage classification to emic interpretation
Indigenous intelligentsia as authority figures
The power of ancestors
Authenticity and oboo ritual efficiency
Conclusion

First lines

Introduction

The sacred landscape of Inner Asia is constituted, among other elements, by holy cairns called oboo. Built on the top of mountains and hills in an auspicious configuration, these sacred sites are worshipped by all Mongol peoples to request protection and fertile herds. The oboo also function as territorial markers and gathering places where commoners and political leaders honour local deities. In the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, oboo are also inherent features of the landscape and fundamental sacred places in indigenous ritual life. Banned during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), oboo gradually reappeared from the mid-1980s during the era of reform and opening up and gained considerable popularity among local populations in the 2000s, following the campaign to Open Up the West (Xibu da kaifa 西部大開發) and the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH, feiwuzhi wenhua yichan 非物質文化遺產) policy. Since “oboo worship” (ji aobao 祭敖包) was included ...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Aurore Dumont, « Turning Indigenous Sacred Sites into Intangible Heritage: Authority Figures and Ritual Appropriation in Inner Mongolia  », China Perspectives, 2021/3 | 2021, 19-28.

Electronic reference

Aurore Dumont, « Turning Indigenous Sacred Sites into Intangible Heritage: Authority Figures and Ritual Appropriation in Inner Mongolia  », China Perspectives [Online], 2021/3 | 2021, Online since 01 September 2022, connection on 20 January 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/12129 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.12129

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About the author

Aurore Dumont

Aurore Dumont is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellow at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and Groupe Sociétés, Religions, Laïcités (GSRL). GSRL, 5e étage Bâtiment Recherche Nord, Campus Condorcet, 14 Cours des Humanités, 93322, Aubervilliers, France (auroredumont@gmail.com).

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