Steampunk Mongolians, you cock your head and look at me like I'm crazy. But I assure you that in this country of steppes, horsemen, and remote wilderness there are some real gems of inspiration.
|Painting of a woman in traditional clothes|
Mongolia during the Age of Steam
A working person's or winter deel was often padded with sheepskin or fur and sometimes even made out of hide or leather. Since the shape is fairly broad and the materials often warm, deel are often used as impromptu blankets.
Characteristics of some deel may or may not include: mandarin collars, leather trim, high collars, 3-5 buttons or similar fastenings, short sleeves, rounded necklines, bib-style overflaps along the front, and accented side-panels.
|Men at a modern archery contest wearing many styles of deel.|
The overall scope of traditional Mongolian dress for rural folk is remarkable in its practicality. As said earlier, the working and herding classes wore plainer deel made from stouter materials, usually over loose trousers (which both genders wore, although women often put skirts on over these) and a basic tunic. The sash which held the deel shut not only served as a fastener, but also as a brace for the torso during long days of hard riding. A tightly-wound sash could also serve as protection for the vital organs in the middriff. The khurim was a padded jacket similar to a deel and was worn over everything in cold or inclement weather.
Before 1921 and the spread of the Soviets into Mongolia, rural folk wore short boots with slightly turned up toes (a fashion borrowed from Vajrayana/Tibetan Buddhist monks not wanting to disturb the ground or small creatures within). In the winter these boots were often lined in fur or sheepskin.
Mongolian hats are iconic in their size and fuzziness. They're traditionally conical with furry flaps that can be tied up or down under the person's chin to keep their ears warm. Sometimes the lining material is a particularly shaggy variety of sheep or goat fur.
|Unidentified Mongolian man- 1900|
Court Dress, or: WHAT IS THAT THING ON YOUR HEAD?!
In stark contrast, court dress was highly ostentatious and colorful- particularly for women. The deels were often layered and cut closer to the body than their peasant counter-parts, in addition to being made in a myriad of shades of silk. Court women also wore sleeveless coats (or surcotes) that were often heavily appliqued or trimmed with designs and full, long skirts (a Chinese trend) underneath.
|Mongolian court lady wearing an ugalz|
So why should you masquerade in Mongolian? Here's the top 5:
5. Mongolian outfits in general are rarely done, so very fresh and new to peoples' eyes.
4. Just like with most Turkish garments, Mongolian clothing is made with predominately rectangular construction, meaning that they're very simple to size and produce.
3. The ugalz and other court headdresses are begging to be steampunked out. I've developed a design with working lanterns hanging from mine (someday this is going to happen!). But just imagine the metalwork or even moving parts one could adapt into such an outrageous piece.
2. The khurim would make a wonderful alternative to a duster coat.
1. Deel are PERFECT for many of the basic steampunk tropes. Imagine it: a fur-lined, suede deel for a pilot? A silk one for a businessman or diplomat? One with multiple pockets and sleeveless for a doctor or inventor?
Here are a few more ideas of how you can integrate Mongolian dress into your steampunk kit:
- Deels, deels, deels! There are so many different cuts and weights of this all-purpose coat that there's a style to suit any steamsona. Working class deels in particular would look good on airship personnel and pirates, drifters and wanderers, Weird West characters, and engineers.
- Fuzzy mongolian hats- not only a statement, but also very functional. A gunner or traveler would be well-suited to one.
- Turned-toe Mongolian boots look nice mixed with western garments or tucked into trousers.
- Sleeveless surcoats worn by noble ladies would look lovely layered with a traditional European dress.
Thank you for joining me for this tour of Mongolian clothing- until next time, world travelers!
|Woman wearing traditional court dress|
|Independence fighters- 1911|
|Dondogdulam- the last Queen mother of Mongolia- 1911|
|Local lords of West Mongolia- 1900s|
|Steampunk interpretation of a Mongolian hat by Laohats (link below)|
http://www.thescorre.org/literature/Mongolian_Garb/GobiHomeCampanion.pdf - (PDF file) The Gobi Home Companion, which is chock full of information about Mongolian dress, including free patterns!
http://www.thescorre.org/literature/Mongolian_Garb/delpattern.JPG - A free Deel pattern, courtesy of Lady Collette de Paris of the SCA.
http://www.laohats.com/shop/ - Lao hats, makers of Mongolian and other fuzzy hats, some even from recycled materials.
http://www.mongolianviews.com/2010/02/mongolian-photos-around-1900s.html - A wonderful blog featuring many wonderful photos of native Mongolians from the early 1900s.