Mongolian International Quilt Show – Opening Ceremony, August 2014

The Quilt show in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Mongolian Quilting Center took place in The State Department Store in the center of Ulaanbaatar from 7th-12th August this summer. At our 2006 show in the same place, we tethered the quilts with safety pins to beds in the furniture department on the 4th floor. This year we had a fabulous location on the second floor in a large space between the escalator going up and the escalator going down. People could see the quilts as they went up and down between floors. The picture shows the view from the third floor.

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Hanging the quilts the day before the show opened was challenging. Selenge’s brother owns a furniture company and his company provided large heavy wooden panels which stood on bases. These had to be covered in cloth after they were erected so that we could attach the quilts. It worked fine, but the problem was the length of time it took to put them all up. We began hanging half of the room at 5.00 p.m., but the second half wasn’t ready until 8.30 p.m. The quilt hanging went quickly with the help of the seven visiting Japanese ladies and my US companions. We had quilts from USA, UK, Australia, Japan and of course Mongolia.

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The quilt show opened with much pomp and ceremony the next morning. At 10.00 a.m., the time at which people were invited to the opening ceremony, balloons were being blown up and a bed was being constructed in one corner to display quilts for sale. Products were still being arranged in the sales area and there was much activity. We began at 11.00 a.m. with some Mongolian music. Then there were speeches from Selenge Tserendash (Director of the Mongolian Quilting Center), me and Ogawa-san Hiromi from Japan, with translations. A fashion show of amazing dresses followed, all designed by Shiilge Bat-Ulzii, one of the Mongolian designers at the Center.

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The show was declared open after an elaborate ribbon cutting ritual. Four of us participated including me and were each given white gloves and scissors that came on a silver platter. I was joined by Selenge Tserendash, the Mongolian Minister of Labor (who also presented Selenge with certificates) and Ogawa-san Hiromi from Japan. After we had cut the ribbon, the silver platter reappeared with four fancy champagne flutes filled with milk for us to drink. Traditionally this would be airag which is fermented mare’s milk and not a delicacy that I would choose to drink! Fortunately, they used ordinary milk! I just copied the others and drank about half of the milk. TV and radio people were there and a good number of people watching and there was much applause.

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On the left, are the Japanese ladies in their area of quilts. On the right, we have the teachers, designers, seamstresses, and the manager from the Mongolian Quilting Center with their fearless leader, Selenge Tserendash. It was a joyful occasion and a great start to the show. My next blog will feature some of the wonderful quilts!

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