Monday, September 8, 2008

In a wet cowskin

I've written in both The Shadow Walker and The Adversary (and indeed in the forthcoming The Outcast) about the problems of alcoholism in Mongolia.  Here's a very interesting and well-balanced article from UB Post about the issue - dealing with its history, the impact of the Soviet Union and some more positive signs for the future. 

The historical material is fascinating.  I was particularly struck by the 13th century Ikh Zasag Law of the Great Mongol Empire: "In case a person arrives drunk at a workplace, first time impose a fine of a weapon he’s carrying with himself, second time impose the fine of a horse he’s riding, third time cut off an extremity of the body. If a fourth time, expel him out of the territory."  I was also impressed by the account of Chinggis Khaan’s son, Uguude who responded to a strict observance of only three cups of alcohol per day by the simple expedient of creating a giant cup.  According to the Secret History of the Mongols, he subsequently died of an alcohol related disease.  A lesson for emperors everywhere. 

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