Despite the relatively small number of specimens this is one of the largest collections of Mongolian material in Britain.
The Mongolian collection was acquired from 1948 onwards, and largely consists of recently manufactured material. It numbers about 200 objects, and was assembled during three periods: before 1979:- nine specimens of clothing, dishes, a whip and a shaman's figure; in 1979:- a systematic collection consisting of a tent or ger, and its furnishings; objects relating to animal management, clothing, pastimes, paintings and decorative art both for domestic use and as turistica for the Communist bloc; and after 1979:- thirty-five objects including currency, textiles and turistica.
The centrepiece of the 1979 collection in a typical Mongolian tent or ger. The Horniman's ger is furnished with wardrobes, cupboards, two beds, a wash stand, a table, four stools, and a stove and pipe made from sheet metal; factory made rugs cover the floor and beds. Additional objects include a saddle, ceramic ornaments, food bowls and cooking utensils. There are also wider contextualising objects: a sporting bow and arrows, a matchlock etc, clothing, a chess set, and animal management equipment, hide and hair ropes and hobbles, a pole-lasso, a horse scraper and a dung collecting fork.
The structure of a ger is closely related to Mongolia's religious history, for example the ger is regarded as a model of the universe, the roof represents the sky, the smoke hole, which may be used to tell the time, is also the passageway by which shamans leave the tent to journey to the spirit world. The altar was traditionally Buddhist, in recent years secular and Communist. This entry is an extract from Ken Teague’s book Nomads.