The Paleolithic was the earliest part of the Stone Age, when early human beings made chipped-stone tools.Ancient man also used bones, horns and the incisors of large animals as tools. The oldest prehistoric artefacts in Mongolia are the stone tools found in Tsagaan agui or White Cave in Bayanhongor aimag, which date back to nearly 800,000 BCE.
Bronze Age 3000 – 700 BCE
44 x 3.7 cm
Bronze Age 1200 - 900 BCE
During the Bronze Age, animal-patterned artefacts were widespread throughout Eurasia. The handle of this dagger - ending in the shape of a wild mountain sheep’s head - is the classic animal style found in Bronze Age Mongolia. Representations in the animal style, amongst them rams, ibex, and argal wild sheep, go back as far as Stone Age rock paintings. This artefact is registered on the Mongolian National Treasures list.
Early Iron Age (700 - 400 BCE) near the Kharmaan River, Khuvsgul aimag, in 2003
Numerous bowl-shaped bronze cauldrons were found in South Siberia so it is likely that this type of cauldron originated from the Scythian culture which dates to 7th - 5th centuries. Similar ancient cauldrons have been found throughout central Asia, Mongolia and northern China. The earliest of these is dated to the 8th century and originated in China. They then spread to the west as the Eurasian people settled near the Black Sea. During the Hunnu period, bowl-shaped cauldrons were popularly used in Mongolia and commonly found in Hunnu burials. In archaeological research this type of cauldron is therefore called the Hunnu cauldron.
Hunnu period (3rd century BCE – 1st century CE)
Noyon Mountain, Batsumber sum, Tuv aimag
Noyon Uul (mountain) is known as a sacred burial place for Hunnu aristocrats. Russian archaeologists have discovered about 200 Hunnu tombs in this area. One of the unearthed tombs was an aristocrat’s tomb, which consisted of a wooden coffin placed in a wooden chamber that was located about 8 -10 metres underground and kept in a frozen state. In the tomb, an exquisite felt carpet was discovered along with many other artefacts. However, the carpet was cut into two pieces when it was found. One half of the carpet is now on display in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The carpet is a unique example of ancient nomadic art. In its original form, the carpet was covered with red silk and fringed with dark brown silk; onto the red silk, geometric designs and nine trees were embroidered, and between these trees, 18 animals were depicted fighting in pairs. The animal figures were cut separately and sewn onto the carpet with woolen threads. These figures are assumed to be bulls, deer, fantastic tiger-like animals with manes and a bird-like being.
Mongol boots (Mongol gutal)
These boots with their characteristic upturned toe are most often made of brown leather with green leather detail, a felt sole and are still common among Mongolians. Patterns such as the ulzii, a symbol of longevity, often adorn the boots and the number of patterns is significant. For example, men would have 8, 12, 14, 16 or 32 patterns on their boots. Patterns called zuu orooh (embroidery) are found on boots made for kings and queens.
Horse tail, bronze, wood 19th century
The Black Banner was the khan’s battlefield banner, standing for the power of the “Everlasting Blue Heaven,” which can concentrate and mobilise the spirit and power of all Mongols to defeat their enemies at any time in all directions. Folk stories mention that the Black Banner would be raised when the khan was at war.
The White Banner is also called ‘Yisun Kholt Tsagaan Tug’ or Peace Banner. It is mentioned in many historical works on the Mongols. The White Banner was raised during times of peace or in a place away from war. From ancient times until the present day, Mongolians have presented offerings to the White Banner. The main part of the White Banner is made from the tails of white mares. The main white banner is surrounded by eight banners. The offering ceremony to the White Banner was held during a grand ceremony once every three years. Since the 19th century this ceremony is part of the annual Naadam celebration.
originated during ancient times, alongside the first human artistic concepts of fetishism, totemism, animism and others. It has been the religion of Central Asian nomads for thousands of years. Modern Mongolians have inherited ancient shaman traditions and continue to practice the rituals as an annual ceremony.
The Morin khuur
This stringed musical instrument derives its name from the horsehead ornament that adorns its top. The horsehead fiddle is very common throughout Mongolia, with every family likely to have one and place special value on it. Mongolian traditional songs and melodies are played on it, although it can also be used to play any other type of music. It has a trapezoid-shaped sound-box made of wood and the horsehead is usually painted green. The strings are made of hair from a horse’s tail. To make the strings, the hair is boiled and stretched to the required length. There are also swan-head fiddles, lion-headed fiddles and dragon-head fiddles.
The Ikhel, a similar instrument to the morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) is widely played in Western Mongolia, especially among such ethnic groups as the Dorvod, Bayad, Zahchin, Urianhai, Oold and Myangad. The Ikhel is used in both dance music and for ceremonies.; it has a pair of strings made from horse tail hair and is played with a bow. The Ikhel is also very similar to the suuh fiddle that is used by the Buryads in northern and eastern Mongolia.
This game consists of 128 long, thin wooden or bone pieces. Each piece has an animal such as a lion, tiger, deer, rabbit or bird carved onto it. Each also has a specific number of points assigned to it. For example, there is only one lion in the set and it is worth 64 points. There are 64 pieces featuring birds, but each bird is worth only one point. Dice are rolled and when a four is rolled, the player collects a piece. At the end, the player with the highest number of points wins.
Silver bowls with a traditional pattern and with a spiral type pattern were used to serve tea and other drinks for the family and to their guests. Bowls are prized for the quality of wood (from the root of a tree) and the amount of silver used, as well as for their intricate designs worked in silver.
4.7 x4.7 cm
18th – early 20th century
This is one of the seals used to legitimise documents of Mongolian lords during the Manchu Dynasty. This seal has a tiger-shaped handle and square base. Three sides of the base are written in Chinese, the other side written in Manchurian script. The two sides of the tiger figure have Mongolian and Manchurian writing describing it as the “rule seal of Khalkh’s northern road western sub-provinces.” The seal had been kept by the sub-province until it was transferred to the Academy of Linguistics.
Stele of Toono Mountain Stone
120 x 40 cm
This stele was located at Toono Mountain in Dashbalbar sum of Khentii province, and in early 1960 it was transferred to the ‘state central museum’. In 1696, the Manchu King Kangxi had won a battle against Galdan Boshigt Khan and created the stele to memorialise his victory. After battling for many years with Galdan Boshigt Khan, he finally occupied the whole of Mongolia. On the stele are carved seven lines in Chinese.
Black banner of Lord Chingunjav
Horse tail, wood, silk
This black banner was used as symbol of a war. It is made of horses’ tails. On the top of the banner is a skull shape. The banner belonged to Chingunjav, who was Lord of the Khalkh Mongols. He was also head of Khotgoid’s government and the main leader of the armed uprising in 1755 - 1758 against Manchurian control. He staunchly continued the struggle but was caught by Manchus and executed in 1758. His black banner was kept in his motherland and transferred to the museum in the 1950s.
9 x 4.7 x 4.7 cm
9th - 20th centuries
This seal is decorated with a lotus, a dragon with fire, some fish on the handle and inlaid turquoise on the bottom. Also on the base of the seal are four lines in square script. As translated into Mongolian, they mean: this is Zasagt Khan Tserebaldir’s seal and successful victory. In the first half of the 18th century, the Manchus gave Zasagt Khan Tserenbaldir this seal in honour of his winning side in the the Zuungar State.
Erdeniin Ochir ~ Mongolian Order of State
Gold, precious stones
19th - 20th century
During the Bogd Khan period, the Erdeniin Ochir medal was invented and rules for it created. They were produced in St. Petersburg, the capital of Russia, and were awarded to foreigners. The order was divided into three levels. The top level of the order was named Chinggis Khan’s order and was for kings of state. The second level was named Abtai Khan’s order and was given to lords and princes. The last order was named Bogd Gegeen’s order.
13.5 x 31.5 x 29.5 cm
Made in Germany
This typewriter with the old Mongolian script was used in Mongolia after 1928. This script was officially used until the 1950s and again after the 1990s, when it began to be studied in secondary schools and state organisations. Education Minister Erdenebatkhaan ordered this typewriter to be made when he visited Germany in 1925.
D.Sukhbaatar’s garment, vest 1921
Silk, velvet, brass
Garment: 130 x 177 cm,
Vest 73 x 60 cm
After liberating Altanbulag, the leaders of the People’s Party wore similar garments when they arrived at Niislel (present day Ulaanbaatar). Sukhbaatar’s vest is made of silk and decorated with the ulzii - a traditional eternal knot pattern. The museum staff collected the del from Suhkbaatar’s widow Yanjmaa in 1927.
With the participation of developed countries, the mining sector in Mongolia has received great impetus and has been steadily developed. Mongolia’s rich deposits carry the potential to bring great wealth to the whole country and society.
In the realm of culture, re-establishing monastic centres of learning, building schools and universities as well as the education and training of students and scientists overseas were and are all matters of high priority.
The National Museum of Mongolia