The most numerous and valuable of the Mongols' principal
animals, sheep provided food, clothing, and shelter for Mongol
families. Boiled mutton was an integral part of the Mongol
diet, and wool and animal skins were the materials from which
the Mongols fashioned their garments, as well as their homes.
Wool was pressed into felt and then either made into clothing,
rugs, and blankets or used for the outer covering of the gers
Dried sheep dung was collected and used for fuel. Though
the Mongols used wood and currently also use coal as fuel
sources, animal dung was often the most readily available
source. Women, and secondarily children, were responsible
for gathering the dung.
Survival of young sheep (and other animals) was vital to
maintaining the pastoral-nomadic way of life, and a significant
responsibility for Mongol women was to coax the ewes to nurse
"Khubilai Khan and the Women in His Family,"
by Morris Rossabi, in Studia Sino-Mongolica: Festschrift
fur Herbert Franke, W. Bauer, ed. (Wiesbaden: Franz
Steiner Verlag, GMBH, 1979) 153-180.