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The Mongols inhabited a vast, featureless grass plain where the soil was too thin for crops. They raised horses, cattle, yaks, sheep, and goats, and subsisted almost entirely on meat and milk and milk products. The women milked the cows and the men milked the mares. They had no fixed houses and lived in yurts made of greased felt that they hauled on ox-drawn carts. Inside the yurts, hunks of meat hung on the horns of goats. They never washed their clothes or washed their vessels; bathing in running water was punishable by death.


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