Monday, November 26, 2012

MWW 35: Даахь


a baby’s hair before it is cut for the first time
In Genghis Khan’s time it was daγaki.

Haircuts for kids are a big deal in Mongolia. This has led to the curious fact that Mongolian has a word for the hair of a baby that has never had a haircut before. That word is даахь. Даахь is also sometimes called унаган үс (unagan üs) or “foal hair” (унага is a baby horse, -н is an adjective marker, and үс is hair (in general, including fur)).

Generally, Mongolians don’t cut their childrens’ hair at all for the first few years of life, and then when they’re about three years old, they throw a party and give the kid a haircut for everyone to see. Boys, and apparently sometimes girls, go through this, because I sometimes see little girls with shaved heads. As a side note, I also see young women with shaved heads far more often here than in America.

In early October, about a month ago, I got to see a hair-cutting ceremony for the first time. In fact, I got to participate in it. Everybody gave the boy, Ganbaa, a little gift (боов or small change). The majority of hair was shaved off in one go with electric clippers. But the last little piece at the back of the head was twisted up into a queue. The dad wrapped a pair of scissors up in a хадаг and gave it to me to trim the queue to a couple of inches.

Mommy's here!
They save the hair, instead of throwing it away.
Braiding the hair
Wrapping the scissors in a хадаг
Cutting the queue
After all the hair was gone, then all the adults drank airag and sang. Like any other Mongolian party.

1 comment:

  1. What a cute little guy. What an honor to cut his queue.