The National Museum of Mongolia – wow!

I have already learned so much about Mongolia in one day here and a visit to the National Museum of Mongolia! The museum was exceptionally well-organized with bilingual signs in Mongolian (written in Cyrillic script) and English, taking us through a historical record of Mongolia. There are 10 rooms and Karima and I only got to see 4 yesterday, but will certainly go back.
Mongolia is an archeologist’s paradise – you could easily spend your whole career studying any one of the dozens of societies that came through over the centuries. Their tools, pottery, adornments, and written records can be seen in the museum, and they are stunning. The early traders who crisscrossed the Asian continent learned about iron smelting, bronze, shaping gold, the wheel for carts, and much more, obtained through trade and commerce. They in turn developed great expertise in livestock, horses, and portable dwelling. These nomads were really the bridge between many cultures and also cultural intermediaries. From what I have read, 30% of Mongolia is still nomadic.
The airport is named for the founder of the country, Genghis Khan, and there is a huge statue of him at the government building, sitting with legs widespread, hands on knees, looking incredibly powerful and intimidating. The two statues on each side of him show fierce horsemen with large quivers of arrows slung over their shoulders, ready to defend the homeland.
Along with their many inventions are their famous portable dwellings (called gers) which are still used and for city dwellers could be called their “summer homes” or “camps.” The walls of the gers are made of felt – do you know what felt is? It’s one of the most effective and original forms of insulation against the cold, made by culling sheep and lambs wool and pressing it into a liner or fabric. We in the US think of felt as something for the classroom wall or maybe a skating skirt – but felt is a major, important building material for the nomads!
The early nobility of the different nomadic tribes each had their own dramatically ornate clothing which were festooned with coral, feathers, turquoise, gold, silk, and many other substances obtained through trade. The women’s long black braids, in many of the nomadic groups, were slipped into “braid holders” for want of a better term – and these were incredibly ornate – think Princess Leia.
All for now!

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1 Comment

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One response to “The National Museum of Mongolia – wow!

  1. Julie Carlson

    Kristen, it’s so nice of you to take us along on your amazing adventures. I can’t wait to learn more about the people and culture. Thanks for sharing!

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