Welcome back to our regular blog feature on antiques destinations in Asia. Today, we’re off to an unusual location, far in the north-east: Mongolia.
Where is Mongolia?
Mongolia is a small country on the border between Russia and China. In fact, it’s often been traded back and forth between those countries over the years – but in 2019, it’s an independent nation.
Whatever its politics, Mongolia has always had its own culture and artistic tradition. Many Mongolians are still nomads, depending on their horses for transport.
Mongolia was once the home of Genghis Khan and his Mongol Empire. The Khan was famous for sponsoring art and culture wherever he travelled, leading to a cultural flourishing in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Mongolian art and antiquities
Mongolian art has been influenced by both Buddhism and Islam, creating a rich artistic tradition. Early Mongolian art featured a lot of painted cotton and silk thangkas (Buddhist paintings), and large bronze statues of the Buddha.
In the 20th century, Mongolian painting was dominated by the Soviet social realist style. However, some artists continued painting in the thangka style, but with 20th century themes – a truly unique artistic movement.
Mongolia is also known for its music. You may come across antique instruments – still played by musicians today – such as the morin khuur.
What to look out for
Mongolian antiquities are dominated by thangkas and Buddhist statues or statuettes. However, there’s also a market for artefacts from the Mongol Empire and the nomadic Mongolian lifestyle.