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"Outer Mongolia" Exhibition

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
File contains numerous exhibit picture, not all SI activities.

"Outer Mongolia," circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. Installation photograph.

5 Möngö, Mongolia, 1945

National Museum of American History
One (1) 5 möngö coin

Mongolia, 1945

Obverse Image: Emblem of the People's Republic of Mongolia.

Obverse Text: БҮГД НАЙРАМДАХ / МОНГОЛ АРД УЛС / 35ОН (Translation: People's Republic of Mongolia

35ON)

Reverse Image: Denomination above wreath.

Reverse Text: 5 / МӨНГӨ ( Translation: 5 Möngö)

1 Tukhrik, Mongolia, 1925

National Museum of American History
One (1) tukhrik coin

Mongolia, 1925

Obverse Image: Soyombo symbol and lettering, date below.

Obverse Text: Translation: SOYOMBO / OF / THE / PEOPLE'S / REPUBLIC / OF / MONGOLIA / 1925

Reverse Image: Denomination above wreath

Reverse Text: Translation: Tögrög

Felt Makers-Terelj, Mongolia

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Filmed by Chrtstine Martens. Made with the support of the Asian Cultural Council Fashioning Felt presents an extraordinary range of felt. From two-dimensional carpets to three-dimensional environments, each work reveals the virtuosity of both the material and the designers. The exhibition and book focus on felt that has been produced by traditional hand- or machine-felting processes; they exclude non-woven felt and techniques, in order to underscore the essential elements of feltmaking — wool fiber, agitation, moisture, and pressure. On view at Cooper-Hewitt March 6—September 7, 2009

Wild Horse Conservation in Mongolia

Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientists are committed to saving the last wild horse species: Przewalski’s horses, or takhi as they are known in Mongolian. The Smithsonian is collaborating with its partners in northwestern China and in Hustai National Park in Mongolia, where this video was filmed, to support the reintroduction of this species that was once extinct in the wild. Through satellite GPS tracking of the horses, we empower project staff to monitor the horses and to better understand their ecology and ecosystem, and use what we learn to enhance their chances for long-term survival.

An Introduction to the Music of Mongolia

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Students will be introduced to the music of Mongolia through several activities looking into different aspects of Mongolian music. Students will be introduced to the sound of the Morin Khuur (horse-head fiddle), the techniques of Khöömei (throat singing), and given an opportunity to play a traditional Mongolian song with western instruments.

Podcast: Why Sky Burials Are Vanishing in Mongolia

Smithsonian Magazine

In this episode of Generation Anthropocene, student reporter Reade Levinson travels to Mongolia in hopes of witnessing a practice known as sky burial, in which the bodies of the dead are prepared for the afterlife. But as Reade learns on her journey, in Mongolia the forces of urbanization, modernization and environmental change may be threatening this sacred ritual.

This piece is a collaboration between Generation Anthropocene and the Stanford Storytelling project.

Related podcasts by Generation Anthropocene:

Creating an Equation for Cities May Solve Ecological Conundrums

How a Farming Project in Brazil Turned Into a Social and Ecological Tragedy

How Geography Shaped Societies, From Neanderthals to iPhones

N. Sengedorj of Mongolia demonstrates khöömei throat-singing

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Throat-singing, a guttural style of singing or chanting, is one of the world's oldest forms of music. It is predominantly practiced in rural areas of Central Asia, where it is called khöömei. The herder/hunter lifestyle in rural Central Asia, with its reliance on the natural world and deeply felt connection to the landscape, is reflected in this vocal tradition. Throat-singers often imitate sounds of the natural surroundings--animals, mountains, streams, and the harsh winds of the steppe. [Catalog No. - CFV10031; Copyright - 2006 Smithsonian Institution]

N. Sengedorj of Mongolia demonstrates khöömei throat-singing

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Find recordings similar to this on these Smithsonian Folkways recordings: http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=2811 http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=2523 http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=2058 and for more information about Smithsonian Folkways , the non-profit record label of the national museum, click here: http://www.folkways.si.edu/index.aspx Throat-singing, a guttural style of singing or chanting, is one of the world's oldest forms of music. It is predominantly practiced in rural areas of Central Asia, where it is called "khöömei". The herder/hunter lifestyle in rural Central Asia, with its reliance on the natural world and deeply felt connection to the landscape, is reflected in this vocal tradition. Throat-singers often imitate sounds of the natural surroundings--animals, mountains, streams, and the harsh winds of the steppe. The content and comments posted here are subject to the Smithsonian Institution copyright and privacy policy (/www.si.edu/copyright/). Smithsonian reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove any content at any time. ©2008 Smithsonian Institution

Musical Hooves on the Steppes: The Morin Huur of Mongolia

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Explore rural nomadic life in Mongolia and the highly impressionistic music and arts of the Central Asian steppes. Students learn to imitate sounds of the natural environment through improvised dance, instrumental performance, and throat-singing.

As Mongolia Melts, Looters Close In On Priceless Artifacts

Smithsonian Magazine

The history and archaeology of Mongolia, most famously the sites associated with the largest land empire in the history of the world under Ghengis Khan, are of global importance. But they’re facing unprecedented threats as climate change and looting impact ancient sites and collections.

Climate change and looting may seem to be unrelated issues. But deteriorating climate and environmental conditions result in decreased grazing potential and loss of profits for the region’s many nomadic herders. Paired with a general economic decline, herders and other Mongolians are having to supplement their incomes, turning to alternative ways of making money. For some, it’s searching for ancient treasures to sell on the illegal antiquities market.

The vast Mongolian landscape, whether it be plains, deserts or mountains, is dotted with man-made stone mounds marking the burials of ancient peoples. The practice started sometime in the neolithic period (roughly 6,000-8,000 years ago) with simple stone mounds the size of a kitchen table. These usually contain a human body and a few animal bones.

Over time, the burials became larger (some over 1300 feet long) and more complex, incorporating thousands of horse sacrifices, tools, chariots, tapestries, family complexes, and eventually treasure (such as gold, jewelry and gems).

For Mongolians, these remains are the lasting reminders of their ancient past and a physical tie to their priceless cultural heritage.

Mongolia has reasonably good laws regarding the protection of cultural heritage. But poor understanding of the laws, and the nearly impossible task of enforcing them in such a large space with relatively few people and meager budgets keep those laws from being effective. And laws can’t protect Mongolia’s cultural heritage from climate change.

Looting losses

The looting of archaeological sites in Mongolia has been happening for a very long time. Regional archaeologists have shared anecdotes of finding skeletons with break-in tools made from deer antlers in shafts of 2,000 year old royal tombs in central Mongolia. These unlucky would-be thieves risked the unstable sands collapsing in the shafts above them for a chance at riches, not long after the royal leaders had been buried there.

But many recent pits dug directly into burial sites around Mongolia, some that are more than 3,000 years old, suggest modern day looting is on the rise. For the untrained looter, any rock feature has the potential to contain valuable goods and so grave after grave is torn apart. Many of these will contain no more than human and animal bones.

Discovering mummies offers the opportunity to increase interest and tourism in Mongolia. (The Center of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia)

Archaeologists’ interest in these burials lie in the information they contain for research, but this is worthless on the black antiquities market. But to steer looters away from these burials would be to teach them which ones to target for treasure and so this strategy is avoided.

Archaeologists working in northern Mongolia in 2017 found hundreds of looted sites, including an 800 year old cemetery consisting of at least 40 burials. Each and every one of them had been completely destroyed by looters looking for treasure. Human remains and miscellaneous artefacts such as bows, arrows, quivers, and clothing were left scattered on the surface.

Having survived over 800 years underground, these priceless bows, arrows, cloth fragments and bones likely have less than a year on the surface before they’re gone forever. This is not to mention the loss of whatever goods (gold, silver, gems) the looters decided was valuable enough to keep.

The mummy race

Archaeological teams are currently working against climate change, looters, and each other for the chance to unearth rare mummies in the region that are known to pique public interest within Mongolia and abroad. A 2017 exhibit at the National Museum of Mongolia featured two mummies and their impressive burial goods—one of which had been rescued from the hands of looters by archaeologists and local police. Though they appeared not to have been particularly high ranking individuals, their belongings displayed incredible variety, artistry and detail.

Burial sites may contain treasures, or just old bones. And looters won’t know until they’ve destroyed them. (Julia Kate Clark)

The result of natural processes rather than intentional mummification as in ancient Egypt, some of these mummies are preserved by very dry environments protected in caves and rock shelters. Others are ice mummies, interred in burials that were constructed in such a way that water seeped in and froze—creating a unique preservation environment.

Both preservation environments produce artifacts that rarely survive such long periods of time. This includes human tissues like skin and hair, clothing and tapestries, wooden artifacts, and the remains of plants and animals associated with the burial.

As looters zero in on these sites, and climate change melts ice and changes the environmental conditions in other yet unknown ways, archaeologists are racing to locate, and preserve these finds. But with little infrastructure, small budgets and almost no specialised training in how to handle such remains, there’s some concern about the long term preservation of even those remains archaeologists are able to rescue.

Efforts to provide training opportunities, international collaborations with mummy experts, and improved infrastructure and facilities are underway, but these collections are so fragile there is little time to spare.

What Mongolia can teach us

The situation in Mongolia could help us to understand and find new solutions to dealing with changes in climate and the economic drivers behind looting. Humans around the world in many different times have faced and had to adapt to climate change, economic strife and technological innovations.

There’s truth represented by a material record of the “things” left by ancient peoples and in Mongolia, the study of this record has led to an understanding of the impact of early food production and horse domestication, the emergence of new social and political structures and the dominance of a nomadic empire.

5 Dollars, The Bank of Territorial Development, Urga, Mongolia, 1915

National Museum of American History
One (1) 5 dollar note

The Bank of Territorial Development, Urga, Mongolia, 1915

Obverse Image: Chinese and Manchu characters with denomination in the corners and at the sides.

Obverse Text: [NEEDS TRANSLATION]

Reverse Image: Bank name at top in Cyrillic denomination at center in Chinese and in each corner.

Reverse Text: [NEEDS TRANSLATION]

200 Wen, The Bank of Territorial Development, Urga, Mongolia, 1916

National Museum of American History
One (1) 200 wen note

The Bank of Territorial Development, Urga, Mongolia, 1916

Obverse Image: Steam passener train behind a camel caravan, denomination to the sides.

Obverse Text: [NEEDS TRANSLATION]

Reverse Image: Floral design.

Reverse Text: N/A

100 Wen, The Bank of Territorial Development, Urga, Mongolia, 1916

National Museum of American History
One (1) 100 wen note

The Bank of Territorial Development, Urga, Mongolia, 1916

Obverse Image: Steam passener train behind a camel caravan, denomination to the sides.

Obverse Text: [NEEDS TRANSLATION]

Reverse Image: Floral design.

Reverse Text: N/A
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