Interviewee ID: 990068
Parent's name: Gombo
Year of Birth: 1956
Notes on education:
Work: university professor
Belief: Buddhist (red hat), shamanism
Born in: Yosön-züil sum, Övörhangai aimag
Lives in: Bayanzürh sum (or part of UB), Ulaanbaatar aimag
Mother's profession: herder
Father's profession: herder
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belief; repressions; family; childhood; education / cultural production;
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Summary of Interview 081211A with Tseren
Gombyn Tseren was born in 1956 into the family of a herder in Esonzüil sum, Ӧvӧrhangai aimag. His paternal grandmother, Büted, was his midwife. In those days ordinary people did what today’s midwives do. Büted’s husband was a man called Genden, a former lama, who spent ten years in prison during the repressions. Genden, who was a lama in the Tseren san, named his grandson after the san he was affiliated to. In the past, Mongols asked respected lamas in the vicinity to give names to their babies. In three days after the birth, a ceremony was held in which the new-born child was washed in mutton soup and was whispered his/her name three times in the right ear. Relatives and friends of the parents were invited to the ceremony. Tseren means ‘longevity’. In the past, education in Mongolia was provided by the Buddhist establishment. As the repressions persecuted educated people, lamas suffered the most. As a prison sentence, the lama Genden cut trees and herded camels in what is today Selenge aimag. When the repressions were denounced after Stalin’s death in 1953, prisoners were set free. In Tseren’s words, ‘As Esonzüil sum in Ӧvӧrhangai aimag was the birth place of the first Bogdo Gegeen Zanabazar, there was a big monastery there. Many lamas from that monastery were repressed. Only few returned. Among them was Genden’.
Tseren went to school in 1965 at the age of ten. As the school was 45-60 km away from his home, he had to stay in a school dormitory, housed in a ger, for a long period of time. He missed his home, parents, and siblings very much. The dormitory had quasi-military rules, and the pupils had to wake up or get to bed after a whistle. Tseren escaped from the dormitory several times, but was brought back each time by his parents. In the dormitory where Tseren stayed for eight years, apart from formal schooling, the pupils learnt many other skills, such as how to work, socialise, and be independent.