Sunday. Day 50 of our time in Mongolia. I meet a boy named Bo.
Bo is not actually Mongolian. We met at International church. I don’t know much about Bo, and consequently this story is not really about him. The significance of Bo here is his name. I like it.
Meeting Bo reminded me of other interesting names I’ve come across here. Mongolia: Day 2, I met my first real Mongolian. It was a man named Tuesday. Puruuv.
It’s not entirely uncommon to be named after a day in the week here. In fact, there are much more unusual names to be found, often literally translated to be nouns or descriptions:
Shargai – Anklebone
Togi – Piano
Saran – Moon
Matgo – Maybe
Nergüi – Nameless
Khenbish – Nobody
Now, to name your child “Nobody” may seem strange, and I’m sure the irony in “Nameless” was not lost on you. However, that is actually reported to be among the top 20 of baby names here!
There are more: Not this one, I don’t know, or Sheepskin. The list goes on.
As odd as it may seem to us from other cultures, there is a reason for such names. Mongolian culture has deep roots in both Buddhist and animistic beliefs. Names that may seem negative to us with a North American background are often purposely given to deceive evil spirits that may want to steal or harm the child. If a couple has had a baby boy that dies, sometimes the next boy is given a girl’s name for protection.
These names are not seen as depressing –it is simply a part of this culture’s normal, just a part of life in Mongolia. In my eyes, these names show the depths of a culture rooted in fear, and it saddens me.
Of course, there are many names representing strength and nature and other such things, but these were a few that made me think. It also caused me to think about my own name too, so…
…come back tomorrow to hear some thoughts on THAT!