Arts & culture

The Secret History of the Mongols on Felt

The Secret History of the Mongols – a monumental historical account on a giant felt by Mongolian artists

“The Secret History of the Mongols,” one of the oldest surviving Mongolian-language historic and literary works, has been illustrated on a felt applique and the artwork was exhibited at the central Sükhbaatar Square in the Mongolian capital on 13 September.
It depicts Mongolian traditions such as animal herding and shamanistic rituals, as well as national ornaments, deer stones and petroglyphs.
The work has been embroidered on a 108 meter-long felt applique with the help of special technology and decorative embroidery.
More than 5,000 craftspeople and embroiders from all the 21 aimags of Mongolia were involved in the making of this giant work of art, which was initiated by the “Craftsmen of Khan Khentii” company of Ömnödelger soum in Khentii aimag in the country’s north east. Khentii aimag is the birth place of the 13th century Mongolian ruler Chinggis Khan, who united the different Mongol tribes to form the largest in the world Mongol Empire.

Felt applique: Chinggis khan (Temüüjin – childhood name) with his mother and brothers

Embroiders from Inner Mongolia of China, Tuva, Buryat and Khalimag in Russia and from Kyrgyzstan were also involved in the making of this felt applique, the cost of making of which is around MNT52 million, which included the salary, cost of rent for premises and the raw materials.
The work on the felt applique began on 28 December 2015 and was completed after almost one and half years later on 12 March 2017. In the process of creating this exquisitely unique work of applique more than 400 crafts people were taught to master the cord-edge applique art.
The main goal of the project is to pass on the tradition of felt embroidery applique, a traditional Mongolian handicraft, to future generations and to illustrate the lifestyle and traditions of the Chinggis Khan era, according to J. Narantuya, a seamstress and one of the initiators of the project.
Narantuya said that “the felt applique has become a unique work of art for depicting the traditional patterns and designs of the nomadic Mongols, the so-called reindeer stones appertaining to the period of the Huns, rock drawings (found in abundance in the country), the nomadic way of life of the different Mongol tribes, the rites and rituals of shamanism, Mongolian-style painting, and the handcrafts of the Mongolian smiths.”
J. Narangarav, CEO of the Craftsmen of Khan Khentii company said, “Applique developed more than 1000 years ago. The 108-meter long Secret History of the Mongols felt applique was created using two-kinds of stitches. The stylized animals and human beings were sewn using the cord-edge applique technique. While the mountains, trees, leaves, flowers and water were quilted and in this sense, the felt applique is unique and perhaps the only of its kind.”

Chinggis Khan, in the center, on his throne

108 meters of white felt, 110 meters of white fabric, 120 eyeletters, 120 needles, 20,000 meters of camel wool thread, 2,000 meters of edging cord, 288 meters of sackcloth and over 100 liters of paint in 32 colors were used in the project.
The project initiators plan to register their felt applique with the Guinness World Records for the largest and longest felt applique.
The Craftsmen of Khan Khentii plans to have a permanent place for their felt applique. It will be preserved as a historical and cultural heritage in a 24-wall large ger in Khentii aimag.

Leave a Comment