Continuing my description of my two days in Holhot, Inner Mongolia, they drove me to my swank Westin Hotel where we had lunch of a Chinese banquet worth of food.
Holhot is a growing city so there are entirely new urban developments of mid-rise shopping plazas and high-rise tower condos and apartment complexes. In the new developments, the buildings are so new that many of them are not occupied by tenants. The shop keepers, of mostly young men, sit in the doorway smoking cigarettes or playing games.
You feel like you are in a modern old West film with a Chinese set of actors. I guess the Mongolians would be the Indians as they are directly related to our North American Indians.
We went to the new campus of Inner Mongolia Normal University. The "normal" means that they focus on teaching teachers and that they do not have the full range of program's as a university. The new campus was built in 2006, but some of the buildings were just finished last year.
I met with Dean Wu Li Ji, who is the expert on Mongolian art. I also meet with the Vice Dean who is a noted traditional Chinese painter. We went to visit the Mongolian cultural museum.
The museum is underground and designed like the tombs found in the area. It shows the history and culture of the Mongolian peoples from prehistoric times until the end of the Qing Dynasty.
The early Mongolians were nomadic. They always had chiefs as there were raids and conflicts over grazing lands, so strong men led those raids. As they assimilated Han culture, they became more settled and had kings, queens, and tombs and bling which is the main displays in the museum. What it boasts is a 1.5 scale replica of a Mongolian tomb found not too far from the city. Inside the tomb are murals of daily life and sacred life.
Photos were prohibited in the museum but I will see if I can find it on the web.
Through the loveliest young translator, Joan, Dean Wu asked many questions about Aboriginal Australian culture. How they live? How they buried their dead? The use of body art. The reply was that it was very similar to how the Mongolians were before they became Han-ised. This would make a great comparative research project.
After the museum, we went for dinner at a restaurant across from the largest dairy factory in mainland China, Esse. The diary factory and mining are the main employers in the town. The dairy company owns most of the land around the new campus. The restaurant is shaped like the traditional Mongolian yurt (tent). Normally, they would order lots of beef and lamb, but with me being vegetarian they settled for vegetables, eggs, and fish. I got to try the Mongolian milk tea which was tasty. We discussed our colleges and futures exchanges after more higher level talks.
After dinner, we went back to campus where I gave my lecture. The Q&A was amazing. My trick of offering gifts to those who ask questions got the ball rolling. I think we went on for over one hour. My talk was about Cultures-based innovation. They expressed their happiness to hear my message about developing and maintaining their cultural values through the creation of resonate forms for today and the future. One student said how an artist the week before said to not focus on old culture to just be modern, but he disagreed and was happy to have his feelings validated by my talk. It is especially important because Mongolian culture is a minority culture.
After the lecture, Dean Wi showed me around the art studios where they imitate both modern and traditional painting styles. We then went to his office where we exchanged gifts. He gave me his book on Mongolian art history. I have him and Aboriginal painting and kangaroo meat. I gave the Vice Dean and my translator Joan a small Aboriginal drawing and Mr. Chin who showed me around a CD.
I then returned to the hotel where I stayed up to 1:30am watching movies on HBO just because they were in English.