Interviewee ID: 990089
Parent's name: Dugarjav
Year of Birth: 1938
Education: tusgai dund
Notes on education:
Born in: Tariat sum, Arhangai aimag
Lives in: Songinohairhan sum (or part of UB), Ulaanbaatar aimag
Mother's profession: herder
Father's profession: hunter, bard
To read a full interview with Baasanjav please click on the Interview ID below.
Summary of Interview 090110A with Baasanjav by Ariun-Undrah
Baasanjav is the son of a hunter called Dügervaj of the Sharnuud clan. Members of this clan are known to be descendants of a famous taiji of the Isuum Bersüüd clan. Baasanjav was born in Tariat sum, Arhangai aimag, in 1938, in the year, month, and hour of the tiger. His real father, a man of noble origin, was executed three months after Baasanjav was born. It was Dügerjav who fathered him. From early childhood Baasanjav participated in his father’s hunting trips. In the circle of hunters, he heard of many legends about ghosts, spirit masters of places, dreams, as well as stories about amazing hunting encounters. Drawn by his interest to learn more about folk songs, legends, and history, Baasanjav later interviewed many elderly people. When in 1957 he composed his first poem, based on his particular interest, it was not received well. However, his song ‘The sign of the sky’, based on the myth of the Bӧrtӧ wolf and the Beautiful Maral crossing an ocean, received the first prize in a Morin Huur competition in 1993. His works have been published since 1990, during which time he became a well-known person. Previously, his works, such as ‘Ghosts around me, stories about them’ and ‘A legend about the emperor and his three wives’ were not published in the socialist period, for they were not praising the regime. In 1998, Baasanjav wrote a letter to the then president Bagabandi, after which the Academy of Science appointed a special committee to examine his works. In six years the committee, consisting of six academicians, concluded that Baasanjav had suffered injustice from 1960 to 1990. Baasanjav is a great Mongolian writer and a witness to how Mongolian literature unfolded in the 20th century.
Baasanjav’s mother was a highly educated woman of noble origin, who knew Manchu and Tibetan, and could sing and play the shanz (a musical instrument). His father, a hunter, knew many legends and folk stories; he even sang legends while in the army of Hatanbaatar Magsarjav. Although he did not go to school, Baasanjav was educated by his parents.
Being interested in Mongolian history, Baasanjav interviewed many people. He recalls, ‘As the most knowledgeable people disappeared in the wind of the Repression, history was left without people who knew about it. Nevertheless, even in the 1960s there still were such people who had served in the army of Bogd Khan, who had participated in the liberation of Hovd, who had witnessed the 5 year old Bogd coming to Mongolia. What these people had to tell contradicted the official history of that time. Apart from dancing, praising bureaucrats, and writing about collective farms, the historians and literary scholars of the socialist period did not even try to write down the accounts of these historical witnesses.’ Using his own methods, Baasanjav studied Mongolian history and interviewed historical witnesses. Being a genuine scholar of Mongolian history, he recounts many stories differently from how they are presented in books.
Summary of Interview 090110B with Baasanjav by Ariun-Undrah
Since childhood, Baasanjav admired Chinese writers, and read their works. His interest in Chinese literature is connected with one story. In his youth, Baasanjav knew a girl called Guean, who had a Russian mother and a Chinese father. She was an amazing person with many skills: she spoke Chinese, Russian, and Manchu, played the musical instrument shanz, and could dance beautifully. She also read ancient Chinese poems, which gave Baasanjav the opportunity to get to know Chinese poetry. Baasanjav recalls, ‘That girl told me about the Chinese script of the Cold Mountain, about the case of Shi Ming, about the legends of the Three Mountains. She saw that I had a literary gift’.
Baasanjav was not a professional writer, but a worker. He worked as a veterinary and then as an aid to the director of a collective farm in different places, including a meat factory, a pig farm, and a food market. He wrote in his spare time. Despite not having a literary training, Baasanjav developed his writing skills by himself. ‘A proper writer does not write what society demands of him/her. A writer has to be the voice of the people in order to protect and save them from the oppression of the party and foreign aggressors’, he says.
Baasanjav’s biological father was persecuted when Baasanjav was only a toddler. Baasanjav learnt about this from his mother. At that time many people in Tariat sum, Arhangai aimag, were arrested. Not knowing who was enemy and who was not, many people were divided among themselves.