Once inside the museum, I’ve impressed at the range and quality of artefacts on display.
For a start, there’s the awesome Altai yatga. Staring at me like a smiling antelope, it was discovered in 2008 by gold prospectors in the Altai mountains. The cave burial included a full set of weapons and an ancient bow harp. Based on an arched hunters’ bow, it was relatively well preserved by the low humidity in the region and able to be fully restored, despite being over 1400 years old! There’s a comprehensive Mongol documentary about the Altai yatga on YouTube, with a brief English summary.
There are interesting sculptures in stone, wood and gold or brass. Some figures are serene, others almost comical and others serious. A carved animal face bears more than a passing resemblance to the Māori taniwha.
Some pieces reference Mongolia’s turbulent past. A man being taken from his ger by a uniformed soldier while his wife reaches out in despair. Chaotic scenes at a village that seems to be under attack.
Then there’s daily life in Mongolia. A chess set comprised of farm animals and their herders, and a Mongolian family seated on the floor.
And detailed felt work, delicate and beautiful.