Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Mongols no longer concentrate on raising horses, cattle, camels, sheep, and goats. Instead there is a preference for sheep, which have the highest market value. Mongols continue to hunt a variety of animals: wild antelope, rabbits, pheasants, ducks, foxes, wolves, and marmots. In the mountainous areas they formerly hunted bears, deer, sable, and ermine.
The Mongols have used irrigation and dry-farm methods for centuries. Mongolian peasants grow barley, wheat, oats, corn, buckwheat, millet, potatoes, sugar beets, garlic, cabbage, onions, carrots, sorghum, and fruit trees (especially apples), and raise pigs and sheep. Among herders a typical diet consists primarily of millet, milk tea, dairy products, mutton, kumiss (fermented mare's milk) and liquor ( khar arkhi ). Of the total land area in the MPR, about 65 percent is used for pasturage and fodder. In the MPR, most wheat is grown on state farms and fodder on collectives. With only 15 percent of its labor force employed in industry, the MPR relies on imports from the former Soviet Union for most of its industrial goods. The majority of Mongols living in the IMAR are peasants, with smaller numbers of herders and urbanites. The region is economically subsidized by the Chinese state.
Industrial Arts. Historically, Mongolian artisans were honored and respected. They worked in gold, silver, iron, wood, leather, and textiles. Recently the applied arts have increased in importance because of export demands and tourist preference.
Trade. Historically, Mongols supplemented their economy by trade and raiding. They never developed a merchant class. On a regular basis the Mongols traded animals, fur, and hides for grain, tea, silk, cloth, and manufactured items with Chinese and Russian trading companies. The Mongols also traded with each other during the naadam, which continues to function in the IMAR as a trade-marriage-entertainment fair. Most trade in the MPR is with the former USSR and eastern Europe, whereas most trade in the IMAR is either with other Chinese provinces or with the United States and Japan.
Division of Labor. The gender division of labor is complementary. Among herders, women and children milk, churn butter, cook, sew, and perform child-care duties, whereas the men tend the cattle, horses, and camels, collect hay, and hunt wild game and occasionally wolves. Both sexes tend and shear sheep. In agricultural settings, men construct dwellings and plant, irrigate, weed, and harvest the crops, whereas women cook, clean, sew, perform child care, and assist with the planting and harvesting. In urban settings both men and women work for a wage. Women are responsible for most of the household chores and childcare duties.
Land Tenure. In the MPR, collectivization, after failing in the 1920s, was reintroduced in the late 1950s and has remained the predominant mode of production. In China, collectivization was first introduced in the late 1950s. In the early 1980s it was rejected in favor of the responsiblity system, which extended to both farmer and herder longterm contracts to use the land.