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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mongolian Art Gallery

My friend Jerry the banjo player is from Inner Mongolia, where Ghengis Khan ruled in the 12th century. When he's not playing kick-ass bluegrass music or throat singing, Jerry is a photographer for an art magazine here in Shanghai.

In his free time (ha, ha) he takes trips back to his hometown collecting examples of Mongolian art. He's amassed quite a bounty of pieces & just last week opened an art gallery to display them all. I went over with some of the other bluegrass groupies to have a look.

Jerry served traditional Mongolian snacks (which were mostly various forms of goat cheese), tea with goat milk poured from a copper pot, & even whiskey made from milk. I opted for the milk-free version of the tea, which was delightful.

As I browsed the gallery, musicians played traditional Mongolian music, twisting their voices like a warped vinyl record. Everywhere I looked there was raw wood, leather & sheep's wool. There were saddles to sit on if you were so inclined, & whips with handles made from antelope horns decorating the shelves. A massive yurt stood in the center of the room, where you might hold a private Mongolian tea party, sitting on pillows embroidered with mirrors, & listening to the sounds of the horse head fiddle.


Mongolia - what a different life! Nothing grows up there because it's so cold, so they depend mostly on sheep for sustentance - meat & milk. In the far reaches of the steppe, there is nothing like the infrastructure I'm used to - no subways & shopping malls or light pollution. Horses are their only transportation.

I'm reminded of the movie Mongolian Ping Pong & wonder if it's really like that up there. I'd love to go see for myself one day. I'll be sure to bring granola bars along with me.

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