Mongolian traditional folk games are considered as vital intellectual and cultural heritage based on valuable creation with easy methods as well as with perfect shapes and meanings. Among the games, there are numerous stone toys describing explicitly the live style and activity of the ancient people.
Games playing times depends on the livelihood of people and Mongolian four seasons. For instance, at Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian New Year – White Moon Holiday) Eve, they usually play with shagay (anklebone) for constructing Alag melhiy (Multicolored frog), while playing with dominos is prohibited according to the customs. Playing outdoor games isn’t allowed during bad weather like thunder rainfall or snowstorms.
The Mongolian traditional games: shagay, stone games, board, outdoor and intellectual toys could be categorized by player’s age. One of the most populargames among adults and children is shagay. There are various shagay games such as flicking, number guessing, above mentioned “multicolored frog” and horse racing. Of course, all reflects the unique aspects of nomadic life-style. For example, four sides of the shagay called with names of livestock: horse, camel, sheep and goat. Playing with it children gain rich knowledge of nomadic life and livestock from their early childhood. We have the custom of cleaning the anklebones and keeping them in the bags at home believing that the increasing shagay amounts positively reflects on the wealth of the household.
Also children in Mongolia often play with various shapes stones substituting it for home furniture or even they like to build the national dwelling the ger. Square stones are usually used instead of chest and oval ones for beds and tables. The minor stones usually represents their cattle and such as sheep and goat.
The traditional verbal games with strict rules of playing and fixed expressions are common among the folklore-games. Since the time of learning to speak, children started to learn proverbs to compete with each other. It is normally combined with Mongolian folklore. These kinds of games have positive educational and behavioral impacts on thinking, mental keenness and perception of children.
In ancient times, during the nomadic path Mongolians invented its own unique type of games by drawing on the ground, sand or snow. As a result, it grew into sophisticated modern board games. Additionally, they drew it on the leather, wood or even on cloth. There are numerous board games such as chess, checkers, reindeer of high mountains and twin-deer.
For example chess with history of thousand of years has become popular game in 7th century. This wonderful type of game stabilizes human mind and thinking with both practical and theoretical way. Furthermore, from early childhood Mongols taught their children the games like guessing hidden fingers and items in order to acquire wisdom.
Another kind of Mongolian traditional game is called an outdoor game. It has a wide prevalence in the countryside and carry names such throwing white stick wood, guessing the white camels, camel and calf. Also, Mongols used to play with common game named uychuur similar to western domino. The different kinds of games have their own names such Horol, Olziy and Tahil. The intellectual games play an important role in developing the mind and thinking of children.