Mongolian Art and Crafts

The second half of the second millenium B.C. was for Mongolia a period of highly developed smelting and during which appeared the Karasukski style in arts, appertaining to the Late Bronze age. This is evidenced by the sculptured heads of wild animals with long ears, huge eyes, giant horns on bronze knives, daggers, owls, rigs, and other objects. 

An earlier form of religion of all Paleo-Asian tribeswas Shamanism, the worshipping of the spirit of nature, its idolisation and animation. Ancient people had their own tribal totems, revered, offered prayers to them. They carved out of wood different objects of Shamanistic cult in the form of beasts, birds, animals, which could very well be regarded authentic works of carving, applique, and ornamentation in special rhythm and composition. 


With the spread and domination of Buddhism, arts and crafts and their trade were influenced by the religion. There appeared elements of Indian and Tibetan art. Iconostatis, vessels for offering gifts to idols, incense burners and other items, wind and percussion musical instruments, used during divine services were creations of folk craftsmen. Every craftsman, within his own talent and capabilities developed and made them, which gave wide opportunities for the advancement of creative fantasy and the appearance of artistic individuality. 


Since long past, the Mongolian people held in respect the darhans (smiths), who held a particular standing in the society. Peoples of the darhan family, as a rule, always possessed certain talent, were skilled craftsmen. They made iron ring of wheels, intricate locks, trivets, different metallic household utensils, trimmings and decorations for harness, lamellar hauberk, ornamented quivers, decorative components of silver for men’s and women’s outer garments: pendants, leather belts with silver ornaments, men’s decorations, which included steel dagger with a richly decorated sheath, steel, chopsticks, tooth pickers, a pair of tweezers a smoking pipe and others.


Jewellry making was also widespread all over Mongolia. Jewellery making was also widespread all over Mongolia. Jewellery made of iron and copper were of more often decorated with gold and silver ornaments, and later on, when gold and silver were used for decorative purposes. 


The Mongolians themselves made wooden household accessories: the ger, cart, box, cupboard, bucket, utensils, musical instruments etc. Carvers made chessmen, the horol (a national game), domesticated animal figures and cliché for printing gods and books. Besides wood also used bones, stones, amber for carving. 


The ger/yurt has been the basic dwelling of the nomads and its furniture and and decors are entire gallery of arts and crafts. The ger its shape, structure, painting and the utensils, tested through time and lifestyle, have come to our days with almost no or little changes. The art of Mongolian folk craftsmen could be subdivided into over twenty types by way of their execution: blacksmith’s artifacts of iron and bronze, castings from these metals, artistic wood carvings, ornaments and applique of leather, raised inscriptions, embroidery, gold and silver chasing sculpture and other types of art.


The Mongolian masters created splendid icons of sacred Buddhist Pantheons; they were bright colored and made of expensive articles: natural silk, and brocade. They were decorated with gems, coral, and turquoise. Such icons applique rivaled with the Thanka-painting and gradually applique became an independent art. 
Artistic needlework using silver and gold laces, which were stitched with thin thread, became wiespread in the late 19th century. The outer garments of privileged lamas, nobles and noyons were decorated with small river gems, corrals and turquoise.

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