The Four Directions (Durvun Zug)

Awareness of the 4 directions is fundamental to the Mongolian view of the
world. A few Mongolian friends have told me that if they are not aware of
their orientation to the 4 directions at all times they feel ill at ease.
The names for the 4 directions corresponds to the words for “front”,
“back”, “left”, and “right.” In ancient times the “front” orientation of
the Mongols’ world was to the east, but for some unknown reason it shifted
to the south, as it is today.

The Mongolian world view looks from north to south. For this reason south
is called the “front” direction. Correspondingly, north is called by the
same word as “behind” in Mongolian. The right (western) side of the world
is regarded as being male in essence, and the home of the benevolent sky
spirits (tenger). The eastern, left, side of the world is regarded as
female, and the sky spirits of that direction are believed to bring disease
and discord.

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