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Mongolian Aobao

Aobao is actually the Mongolian stone piles or heaps  for worship. If you have an opportunity to visit Inner Mongolia you will be impressed by the pillbox-shaped heaps that stand singularly or in clusters on the grassland. The local people call them 'Aobao', and they are built of stone in areas where stone abounds, and sand and earth are encircled with willow branches where there is no stone.

Buried inside an Aobao is a Buddhist statue or a metal weapon, and the top of it and the area around it are decorated with streamers and what resemble totem poles. In the beginning they were used as road signs or boundary marks; later, local herdsmen began to worship them as dwellings of a certain divine protector.

Legend has it that every time Genghis Khan launched an expedition, the first thing he did was to offer sacrifices and libation to an Aobao and prayed for victory. Later, the Aobao sacrificial ceremony also included the citation of soldiers who had performed meritorious deeds or who had died a hero's death. Aobao worship can be organized by individuals or local governments. When passing by an Aobao, the Mongols make it a point to dismount from whatever they are riding. He may also pick up a few stones or lumps of earth and place them on it, or offer sacrifices and kowtow to it to ask for blessings for safety, a rich harvest and national stability.

If you want to experience the Aobao in Inner Mongolia, you can customize a China Inner Mongolia tour.

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