Wonders of Mongolian Art and Crafts


Exploring Art and Crafts of Mongolia 

Mongolian arts and crafts have been passed down from one generation to another, leaving behind deep impressions on all facets of mode of life, and conscious, aesthetic and philosophical thinking.The highly developed periods of Mongolian art and crafts comes from second half of the second millennium B.C and evidenced by the sculptured heads of wild animals with long ear, huge eyes, giant horns on bronze knives, daggers, owls ,rigs, and other objects both found in Mongolia and the Ordos.
Ancient Mongolians had their own tribal totems, revered and offered prayers to them. They carved out of wood to create different objects of Shamanism 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.


Decorating Art in Mongolian Horse Culture 

As the most important animal, Mongolians delighted in their horses, riding them to hunt, to travel and to war. Due to horse’s usage in nomad’s daily life, Men of Mongolia have been carrying and giving vital attentions to his own horse. There is Mongolian saying- Horse is good friend of men. Maybe, that’s why Mongolians have been giving more interest and attention to horse utilities such as saddle, bridle, and whip and beast band of the horse. Mongolian men had been wanted to differ by his horse, so even wanted to embellish by ornaments of horse made by silver, gold and even precious jewelry. Both ornaments of horse and decorations of men are most important heritage of Mongolian art and crafts’ culture. Even men’s decorations such as knife, pendant for knife, snuff box, smoking pie accessory and steel drills were paired in design with saddle, bridle and ornaments of horse made by similar precious stone and rare metals.

Mongolia has more than Twenty Types of Crafting Technique

The art of Mongolian folk craftsmen can be subdivided into over twenty types methods; blacksmith’s artifacts of iron and bronze, casting from these metals, artistic wood carvings, ornaments and applique of leather, raised inscriptions, embroidery, gold and silver chasing, sculpture and other types of crafting arts.

Mongolian Wooden sculptures

Since yearly times, Mongolian artisans have been made wooden household accessories – the Ger, cart, box, cupboard, bucket, utensils, and musical instruments. Mongolians cared for the quality of wood and paid particular attention to correct drying and wood processing.

The making of Mongolian national musical instruments has been regarded as folk handicrafts. The most widespread folk musical instruments have been Morin Khuur. The neck of the Morin Khuur was crowned with one, two, and even three sometimes dragons heads to were carved out. Beautiful ornamental designs were carved on each side of the square body, the peg-head, and the bow.

Ger -  Nomadic Mongolian Dwelling

The Ger /yurt/ has been the basic dwelling of the nomads and its furniture and decoration is an entire gallery of arts and crafts of Mongolia. Gers are constructed of a latticed wood structure covered with layers of felt and canvas. The felt helps the Ger keep heat and the canvas over it sheds rain. The Ger, it's shape, structure, painting, and utensils tested through time and lifestyle have come to our days with almost no or little changes. Carpenters were clever in using the natural qualities of wood, for instance, for making Toono- upper ring of ger, one-half stem of a birch tree was cut off in the summer when it was completely dried up, it was bent in that side, where the stem was not cut off.

The Art of Metalworks 

Since Bronze ages, the Mongolians have been following the tradition of casting and in the 19th century A.D. casting in bronze, brass, and copper alloys was widespread.
Ritual musical instruments and other cultural objects, incense burners and censers were cast. Different bell and hanging bells were made by casting. Every Smith had his own method and style of molding. Mongolian silver cased knife. It can be carried in the belt or sash. It is useful in the countryside or caravanning. This knife can also be used for slaughtering animals and other purposes, when a person enters Ger, he takes out it of his sash and hangs down. 

Embroidery Art of Mongolia

Since ancient times, Embroidery was done by women, who cleverly handle needles and thread. This vast link in the folk handicraft in its turn was divided into embroidery, applique and artistic stitching. 
Each of these had their own distinctive features and Buddhist religion also frequently used applique. Mongolian masters created splendid icons of sacred Buddhist Pantheons and they were brightly colored and made of expensive articles –natural silk and brocade. In common daily life, embroidery of tobacco pouch is found and can be varied by its uniqueness and features. Traditionally after greeting, Mongolians exchange snuff bottles. A person receives snuff bottle and loses the top of the snuff bottle gently and takes out the snuff and pinches it and smells or put it into one’s nose. 

Leather Crafting in Mongolian Art 

The ornamental designs on leather items were original and distinctive one of art and crafts of nomadic Mongolia.
The Mongolians used rawhide and processed leather for making belts, bridles, harness, saddle, their decorations, and Mongolian boots-Gutal. For instance, in western Mongolia, waterskin had beautiful and variegated designs, which never erased or disappeared when the liquid was stored in it for a long period of time. Such water –skins were practicable from the viewpoint of the nomadic way of life since they were light, durable, and easy to carry around.

Mongolian Clothing Art and Fashion

The different Mongolian tribes are distinguished by their dress and decoration. The Mongolian saying *the dress is god, the body is evil* comes from the noble moral admonition that the dress, its decorations should suit the person and chosen according to the taste. There were used many kinds and makes of national dress and there are more than over hundred kinds of just for headgear varies by ladies’, gents, children’s, special rites and ceremonies, everyday use and so on.

The art of Jewelry in Mongolia 

Jewelry making was also widespread all over Mongolia. Jewelry made of iron and copper were of more often decorated with gold and silver ornaments. Head decorations, crowns, clips, hair pins, pendants used by the Khalkh, Dariganga, Uzemchin, Buryat women and women of western Mongolia were usually made of silver with corral, turquois and other precious stones inlaid. Such a fine and intricate trade were often raised to highly developed jewelry art by folk talents. 

Chinggis Khan’s Influence on Art and Crafts of Mongolia 

Under Chinggis Khan, textile workers, architects, stone carvers and jewelers were relocated from the Middle East and Central Asia to Mongolia to create the magnificent works of art desired by the Mongols. Under Ogedai, Chinggis’ son and successor, artisans were put to work building and decorating Karkhorum , the Mongols’ capital city which is now Uvurkhangai province. During the Mongol Empire, as artists and artisans traveled throughout the Empire, cross-cultural influences in the arts took hold.

The influence of Buddhism 

The religion’s spread and domination played an important role in the blossom of Mongolian art and crafts and showed appearance and elements of Indian, Tibetan and Nepalese art. In the early 20th century, all famous carvers were gathered in Urga from all parts of the country for executing a large piece of work for religious purposes, making miniature heaven of Buddhist deity –Duinhoriin Loilon, Avidiin Shangad. They had also to make wooden clichés for over three-hundred volume Ganjur and Danjur which is a collection of Indo-Tibetan treatises on many branches of learning of literature, art, astronomy, philosophy, logic, medicine, mathematics and theology. The carvers besides wood also used bones, stones, amber for carving. Decorations of bone for dresses worn during the Tsam special religious ceremonies were made by camel bones after boiled down after they became snow white which was then used in costume decoration.

Modern arts and crafts of Mongolia

It is the duty of every Mongolian citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. The art and culture of our nation are a vast continuum, evolving incessantly since time immemorial.
Naturally, preservation and conservation of Mongolia’s rich cultural heritage and promotion of all forms of art and culture, both tangible and intangible, including monuments and archaeological sites, anthropology and ethnology, folk and tribal arts, literature and handicrafts, visual arts of paintings-sculpture-graphics is essential and assumes a lot of importance.

How to explore Mongolian art and crafts?

All the precious elements of Mongolian art and crafts above are preserved and protected as Mongolian culture heritage  and showed an exhibition of Mongolian  museums including the National Museum of Mongolia, Museum of Bogd Khan’s winter palace, Zanabazar Museum of Fine arts, Mongolian museum of art, Choijin Lama Temple Museum, Mongolian national-modern art gallery and many more. Most of the Mongolian museums in Ulaanbaatar are available during weekdays in winter schedule, but from mid of May to September, they are open for a full week and working hours are usually 9 am to 7 pm. Moreover, museums and monasteries in provinces around the country lead you to follow paths of Mongolian art and crafts history. Especially, Erdene-zuu monastery and Amarbaysgalant monastery will attract and increase your interests of art and crafts of Mongolia. You should also keep in mind that every administrative such as baga, soum, and province may have their own museum and monasteries which reflects and tells the history of art and crafts.


Related topics

         - 10 Famous Buddhist Statues in Mongolia

         -  Mongolian Arts and Culture




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