From the Vault: Gutal

Take a peek into our 14,000+ collection with our new blog series, From the Vault! Every other week, we're sharing interesting stories about one of our artefacts.

What is the provenance of this pair? When did they enter the BSM collection?

This pair entered the collection in 2005. They were acquired for the museum by Ruth Malloy on a study trip to Mongolia.

Are there any features that distinguish this pair from other footwear from the same period and geographical location?

This pair of boots was made by Langaa Shura a boot-maker from Ulaanbaatar in Central Mongolia and are a reproduction of an older Mongolian style. Boot making is a gendered occupation in Mongolia and is traditionally done by women. Shura has been making boots since 1976 and she taught traditional boot-making to her husband. In 2005 they were producing between ten to fifteen pairs of traditional boots a month.

Can you elaborate more on the materials used to make this pair?

Gutal consist of two main parts, an inner liner and an outer boot. The inner liner typically is made out of wool with a leather top line made of the same material as the outer boot. It provides warmth when paired with the outer boot but can also be worn inside in chilly weather. The outer boot often features embossed leather decorations that are created by pressing damp leather into carved wooden forms. As many as sixty-four embossed decorations can be applied to the outer boot. A defining feature of Mongolian footwear is their distinctly upturned toe

Who would have worn this pair and where or for what occasion?

This style of boot was designed to be worn all year around. The craftsmanship and level of decoration can indicate socioeconomic status.

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