In spite of its difficulty, the study of orally transmitted traditions, such as sung epics, provides fascinating insight into a society’s culture. On the island of Palawan and among the Buryats living in the forests of Siberia, epics mostly dealt with the quest for marriage partners, acts of heroism and the overcoming of conflicts which led to social harmony and cohesion. In both these cultures, which were based on hunting and the exchange of goods, the epics were sung by shaman-bards. They were complemented by written epics such as the “Secret History of the Mongols” which circles around the figure of Genghis Khan, or the Tibetan Gesar epic.
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