<< previous image || Mongolian Exhibition || next image >>

Double Spouted Ewer
Silver with high copper content
Early 20th century
H: 10 in. (25.5 cm) W: 11 5/8 in. (29.4 cm) Diam: 6 3/8 in. (16.2 cm)

Museum of Fine Arts, Ulaanbaatar

If the use of lotus petals on the lid, shoulder, and base of this vessel indicates that the craftsman was influenced by Tibetan forms, the design concept of the ewer is purely Mongolian. A cow surmounts the lid, the heads of two rams decorate the overhead handle, while camels with open mouths form the spouts. A vertical wall divides the interior of the ewer into two parts, so that two separate beverages can be served. The fretwork decorating the lid and the base is known as the wall motif, inspired by the Great Wall which once separated Mongolia from China. The lives of the Mongols and their traditional economy rely on the horse, camel, bovine (yak and cattle), sheep and goat, and three of these "five snouts" are depicted on this vessel.(1) The horse provides mobility and aira , the fermented mare's milk which is the national beverage of Mongolia. The sheep, goat, and bovine are a source for food and wool, as well as for fuel and shelter. The two-humped Bactrian camel is the beast of burden, providing transport on the trade routes. The white camel, together with eight white horses, constituted the "Nine Whites," traditional tributes from the Khalkha khans to the emperors of China.(2) AbbÈ Huc, in his famous memoir on his travels to Mongolia and Tibet in the mid-19th century, mentioned the meeting with the khan of Alechan, whose entourage included a white camel all bedecked with yellow cloth, a tribute for the Daoguang Emperor of China.(3) --T.T.B. Published: Tsultem, Mongolian Arts and Crafts, pl. 34

All images and text copyright The Asian Art Museum; not to be reproduced without permission.


1. See Bosson, "Who are the Mongols and Why?" p.00, and Rossabi, Khubilai Khan, p. 3. back

2. Ning Chia, "The Lifanyuan and the Inner Asian Rituals in the Early Qing (1644-1795)," Late Imperial China 14, no. 1 (June 1993), 70. back

3. Huc, Recollections of a Journey through Tartary, Thibet, and China, vol. I, p. 226. back

<< previous image || Mongolian Exhibition || next image >>