Saturday, March 19, 2011

What a great Saturday. Doko, an accomplished felter and manager of Duuren Sanaa - an NGO that promotes Mongolian handicrafts and teaches villagers to develop their own businesses, arranged a trip to Altanbulag - a village in the west. We traveled through incredible scenery - no picture does it justice.

Goats - from whence comes cashmere. Our picnic break - al fresco and al coldo! Through the woods you can see horses being herded.

The river is beginning to melt - another sign that spring is on the way!

The looms in the ger of a weaving family. Both husband and wife weave, and they specialize in the belts worn with the tradition Mongolian costume - the del. Their weaving is so superior, they provide belts for many Lamas, and they have a contract with Japan for belts for Sumo wrestlers! Their work is sold in UB. The weaver becomes part of the loom. She has a belt around her waist that hooks to her work - it functions as the front beam of a loom. She is weaving with incredibly thin cotton thread

Doko is holding a stack of belts that are ready for market.

Left is a bird's nest! Much like an oriole's nest, these small birds use sheep and goat wool to "felt" their nests! The family gave me this one as a gift - it will bring me luck and wealth - we can only hope!

A collective of four women in the village. In the summer and fall they make huge batts of felt, and then in the winter, they fashion their rugs and chair seats but quilting the felt. I am now the proud owner of one such seat.

Preparing a Khazak design for a felted wall hanging.

This family also has a small business. They make boots for young children. The husband is carving the boot forms. The felt is then formed into the uppers, and Doko is displaying a finished pair of boots.

What an interesting day. Felt is such an integral part of Mongolian life. Not only does it cover the ger, it covers their bodies, and provides warm places to sit. Felt is imbued with medicinal assistance as well. If one wears a felted hat, one has less chance of losing hair and having it go white. (Too late for me on both counts). If one sits on felt, one's bones will stay well and arthritis may be kept under control. The seat cover I purchased will be on display on my office chair!


  1. This is amazing! I so hope to get to see this part of Mongolia in May. Is there anything I can do from here to arrange it?