4. CULTURAL & HISTORICAL HERITAGES

MONGOLIAN CULTURE: MONGOLIAN TRADITIONAL COSTUMES

Deel: A deel is the traditional clothing commonly worn for many centuries among the Mongols and can be made from cotton, silk or brocade. The deel looks like a big overcoat when not worn. Instead of buttoning together in the middle, the sides are pulled against the wearer’s body, right flap close to the body with the left covering. On the right side of the wearer are typically 5 or 6 clasps to hold the top flap in place. There is one clasp below the armpit, three at the shoulder, and either one or two at the neckline.


A deel is usually worn with a large belt, usually made of silk. The area between the flaps and above the belt creates a large pocket in which Mongolians keep small items. It also serves as a hanger to which a knife, firestone, cup and other accessories can be attached. Though there is no major difference in material or outline between male and female deels, females tend to wear the 'pocket' closer, while males may have larger pockets, looser fit, and wider sleeves.


In the nomadic culture, special attention was given to the quality of clothes and its tidiness since a missing button, undone seam or loose knot could have cost one's life during a sudden snow storm or fast horse ride.

Besides being a main cloth, it can serve as a blanket, tent and cover against unwanted glances. Depending on weather or work needs, other pieces such as jacket or coat can supplement the deel.

Deel protects perfectly against cold and winds. If necessary, its long sleeves are rolled down to serve as gloves.

It is still commonly worn outside major towns, and especially by herders. In urban areas, deels are mostly only worn by elderly people, or on festive occasions.


Hats:There were over 100 types of hats, different in shape and purpose - for young and old, men and woman, fashionable and everyday hats, for summer and winter, holiday and ceremonies.

Regular hats like "louz" can serve for all occasions. In winter the hat edges can be lowered and protect against wind or cold. On warmer days sides are rolled up and tied on back side.

Hats are very functional, but also make the main piece of the clothes. Each hat was richly embroidered with silk, velvet, ornaments, furs and even precious stones. Often long tassels and red strips streaming in wind would make the owner look very stylish.

That is why an expression "red tasseled Mongols" was often used. The hats embroidery and ornaments would also indicate the social status and even age of its owner.

It is advisable to keep one's hat on when entering Ger, a traditional nomadic dwelling. The rules of etiquette forbade greeting or meeting anybody bareheaded. In the olden days neither a man, nor woman was allowed to go into the street or enter someone's house without wearing a hat.

In old times it was considered to be a humiliating punishment if the "zangia" - a round shaped knot decoration crowning the hat, was torn off. To tread or step over it is considered to be insult to the owner.

Greeting another person or wishing goodwill is always done with one's hat on as a sign of respect. Such a traditional importance attached to headdresses in the past is still carries on.



Shoes: Mongolian boots, known as "gutal" fit ideally for horse riding. They are spacious enough and the slightly uplifted boots forward end prevents from being caught in stirrups, in case rider falls off.

Stiff and high bootlegs protect when walking in summer high grass and winter snow. The upped nose leaves enough air space to prevent from getting cold in winter.

Traditional boots are usually worn with a felt sock made according to boots shape. The upper part of the socks coming out of the boots is usually embroidered with silk, leather, various ornaments and applications.

There are other types of boots used for different seasons and purposes. Normal high heeled soft boots, called boitog, are used mostly for hunting or long walking trips. In winter a fur cover called degtii is put over boots. The boots heels can be soft and hard, low or high depending on the nature of their use.

Boots are made of the skin of cattle or in special cases, skin of such wild animals as deer, wild goat or sheep. Though shoe making is a long and tedious process, traditionally it was female duty to make them.