Firstly, what is Mongolian calligraphy?
‘In the Mongolian language, calligraphy is called “Uran bishig”, which means “beautiful writing.” It is a technique based on the ancient Mongolian script which consists of ninety letters connected vertically by continuous strokes creating words. Each letter is formed with six main strokes, known as “head”, “tooth”, “stem”, “stomach”, “bow” and “tail”. The centuries-old Mongolian tradition of calligraphy derives from this remarkable vertical script, which has a fascinating calligraphic quality of its own. Each letter has three shapes, depending on where it is located in the word: at the beginning, middle or end of the word. As a result, each word has different flourishes at the beginning and end, which are opportunities for sweeping brushstrokes
or “swooping” that bring the most prosaic text to life with a moving effect.’
Erdenesiin Khuree Mongolian Calligraphy Arts Centre
We invite our guests to be ‘part of a bigger travel philosophy’ and belive that tourism can be a force for good by creating social value. As part of our philosophy, we try to include the work of at least one Mongolian project in every experience we offer. Why? These projects are all effective contributors to positive change in Mongolia – whether associated with environmental protection, the preservation of natural or cultural heritage, or in response to social challenges. It just one way – as well as our free training scheme for Mongolian women, the fact we pay taxes in Mongolia and our long-term local community partnerships with Mongolian families – that your tour payment is being used effectively to support and benefit local Mongolian communities. One new project we will be supporting is the Erdenesiin Khuree Mongolian Calligraphy Arts Centre.
This wonderful centre is a nonprofit association dedicated to traditional Mongolian arts and calligraphy. You’ll find Erdenesiin Khuree in Kharkhorin – 355km west from Ulaanbaatar. Kharkhorin was the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire when it was a major hub for cultural and commercial exchanges. It now forms part of the UNESCO Orkhon Valley World Heritage Site and makes an ideal location to establish a center dedicated to ‘Mongolian traditional arts at what was a crossroads of Eurasian cultures.’
Its aim is to preserve and propagate Mongolian calligraphy which was inscribed in 2013 on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage as in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. In addition, the centre wants to be a window for other forms of art related to traditional Mongolian culture and to become a vector of economic development for one of the most important historical tourist
destinations in Mongolia. In doing so, they hope to contribute to reducing the tide of rural to urban migration.
For those of you travelling with us, we’ll cover the cost of the entrance fees to the centre. The centre – open throughout the year — hopes that its entrance fees – together with the sales of artworks – over the course of a year will generate enough money to cover its yearly operational costs. But the real prize as far as we’re concerned are the public and private Mongolian calligraphy lessons that we can arrange for you at the centre. The calligraphy lessons are conducted by Mongolian artists working in partnership with the centre and include Tamir Samandbadraa – considered one of Mongolia’s top calligraphers. The price of these lessons is very affordable and contributes to the specialised workshops that the centre offers to local people including its inspiring art therapy workshops for local people with mental or physical disabilities.
To learn more about the work of the centre check out their website (https://www.erdenesiin-khuree.com/en/home), see the introductory video below or get in touch for details on how we will include a visit to the centre in our Mongolia experiences.
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes