Mongolia is a country of great diversity, where a diverse range of ethnic groups coexist. Mongolia culture, religion and tradition are a deeply rooted mix of different influences from a number of nomadic cultures like the Mongols, the Tibetans, the Chinese and the Russian Empire. It is this history that has resulted in a variety of modern Mongoliaese everyday clothing. There is no uniform dress code as such, but there are certain aspects common to all the different segments of society. The aim of Mongolian clothing is to create an identity for the country and reflect its unique traditions and customs.
One segment, which has seen the bulk of Mongols’ clothing during the early times was the men’s wear. Nomadic tribesmen would move around the countryside with their horses and tents, so their clothes had to be tough and warm in order to endure the harsh climate. Mongolia men’s clothes at that time were simple and functional, but the gaudy nature of the designs has given them a second life. Today these traditional outfits are still highly fashionable, practical and comfortable.
Women have always had a heavy influence on the culture of Mongolia. Her skills as a cook, her knowledge of farming and her ability to be the head of the family all made her an important part of the society. She was seen as an equal among men, and it was common for a man to marry several women just to support his family. This led to an essential need for durable clothing, so the women of Mongolia did away with their old-fashioned cotton clothes in favor of heavier woolen clothing, which was warmer and provided better protection against the cold.
The Mongols, being a very nomadic group, had to adapt to changing environments and weather conditions. A big advantage for them was the fact that they never had a single specific style of clothing, as they dressed themselves in different ways depending on the circumstances. They used leather coats in the hot summer months and lightweight dresses and skirts during the winter. Their shoes also varied, from large slippers to sandals, depending on whether they were going out on a hunting trip or just going to the shop for some local merchandise.
When it came to clothing, Mongolian women wore silk pajamas rather than the heavy, woolly sweaters most people associate with the country. They also wore full skirts and boots and often had their faces covered. For men, a full jacket and trousers were worn, but with a fringe on the forehead so that it could be seen when they were fishing or hunting. Only the wives of the khans (powerful landlords) of the khans could wear a short sleeved shirt. Men also had long hair, which was cut very short to show their whiskers.
The typical Mongolia garment was a piece of leather, cotton or woolen material, which was worked into a simple item. They did not make belts or bags, nor did they have pockets, but they did use beautiful embroidery to make beautiful decorations on the garments. Their clothing was colorful, flowing and made from natural materials, such as wool, silk and reindeer skin. Their jewelry was an important part of their cultural heritage and consisted of bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings and amulets which were made from special stones and/or metals. Of course, each tribe had its own symbols and embellishments and those items changed over the years, but one similarity did remain: each tribe’s unique style of jewelry was different and reflected its role in the society.
Mongolian men’s clothing, especially the ones for farming, were practical and sturdy. Their clothes were generally darker than those for women, because the Mongols lived off the land and didn’t have much opportunity to wear the fancy clothing of the more fashionable countries. The main dress code for the men was always khaki (colored trousers and shirts with some white in them), and khaki was a sign of discipline and bravery, so it was used as the main color for farming uniforms as well. Mongolia was an extremely important place in ancient times. It was the world’s largest land mass and one of its most important trading centers and the people there had a very high culture and traditions. Their crafts and production were so high quality that they were prized by European traders.
Today, the traditional clothing is hard to find because all of the emphasis is on producing paper products for the international market. Paper products are actually still popular, though, and Mongolia still exports a lot of paper products to China and other Asian countries. One thing that does remain from the Mongols is the love of color and individuality, and the art of embroidery. Today, this can still be seen in their paper products, such as silk, jute and khaki clothing.