A renaissance of traditional culture is sweeping the landlocked Asian nation of Mongolia. Long-ago conquerers of most of Asia and part of Europe, the Mongols have lived in isolation under Communist rule since 1921. But now the Mongolian People's Republic is swinging its doors open to the world.
A renewed burst of nationalism is bringing looser ties with the Soviet Union and new respect for all things Mongolian. The long-persecuted Buddhist faith is in resurgence. Genghis Khan, who united warring tribes nearly 800 years ago and set them on their path of conquest, is no longer condemned as a feudal aggressor, but rather praised as a national hero.
This year, on the rolling grasslands that surround the capital of Ulan Bator, Mongolians have held several traditional "Naddam" festivals, featuring the national sports of wrestling, archery and horse racing. One festival marked a late-summer visit by U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Another honored Genghis Khan in a celebration of the 750th anniversary of the writing of "The Secret History of the Mongols," which documented the famous conquerer's life and the history of his people.