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   About Mongolia » Soyombo

The Soyombo Alphabet and the Soyombo Symbol

The Soyombo alphabet was created in 1686 by the famous Mongolian monk and scholar, Zanabazar. Modelled after the Lantsa-Dewanagari script, it is capable of representing Mongolian as well as Tibetan and Sanskrit. Though the script has a unique appearance it failed to established itself as a script for everyday use; today it survives in the form of inscriptions on prayer mills and temples.

A variant of the opening symbol of the Soyombo script (a symbol which appears before the letter A) however is in wide use today. It became the national symbol of Mongolia and as such it can be found on money, official documents, official stamps, and the like. It is literally omnipresent and is proudly displayed e.g. at the Süxbaatar Square in central Ulaanbaatar.
Each element of the symbol has its own meaning. The three tongued flames crowning the emblem symbolize the nation's past, present and future prosperity: from time immemorial fire has meant the continuation of the family and the clan. Depicted underneath the flame are the sun and the crescent, both old Mongolian totems.

"We are the people whose father is the new moon and whose mother is the golden sun", say the old legends. The flame together with the sun and the crescent symbolize the prosperity and progress of the Mongolian nation. The spear or arrow tip turned downwards is supposed to signify victory over the enemy.

The two triangles in the upper and lower part of the ideogram tell about the people's determination to uphold their freedom and independence. The rectangle is the symbol of uprightness, honesty and nobility and the two smaller rectangles symbolize honesty of government and rulers.

In the center of the Soyombo is the old symbol signifying the unity of pairs of natural elements; fire and water, earth and sky and man and woman. According to other interpretations, this also denotes two fish swimming in concentric circles. The Mongolians see fish as a symbol of vigilance since fish never close their eyes. Fish also symbolize wisdom and reason. So this pictogram of the Soyombo means: "Let the men and women, i.e., all the people be cleaver and wise, and be on guard over the motherland!"

The two vertical pillars on each side of the emblem signify a fortress and it is a graphic expression of the ancient Mongolian saying that: "Two amicable persons are stronger than stone walls." So this symbol denotes: "Let all the people be amicable and unanimous and be stronger than any stone fortification!" The national emblem and the national flag of Mongolia, therefore, carry the Soyombo emblem of freedom and independence of the Mongolian people.

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