Jeff Wallman - 7th April 2022

Woodblock printeries at the National Library of Mongolia

The National Library of Mongolia (NLM) is an extraordinary cultural treasure which holds traditional Mongolian knowledge from across generations.

The National Library of Mongolia (NLM) is an extraordinary cultural treasure which holds traditional Mongolian knowledge from across generations. Since 2018, ALL has been consolidating, documenting, and restoring the library’s collections – a project of critical importance for both the Mongolian public and the global community. Rituals, epic stories, treatises on government, land use, architecture, music, and indeed all cultural forms are documented in the literature of Mongolia. From the thirteenth century on, this body of work was safeguarded in private libraries, homes, and small institutions, forming a stable cultural foundation throughout the country.

Every Text Tells a Story

The texts in the NLM collection traveled from all parts of Inner Asia. ALL conducted a recent analysis of the current discoveries from more than 3,700 volumes preserved, we identified the texts originated from 55 different printeries. You can view the printeries on the map below.

Woodblock Printing

Woodblock printing is a traditional method of printing texts for distribution.  The texts are carved into wood, in reverse, and then printed on paper using a variety of natural pigment based inks. 

Woodblock printing is critical preservation work, as in many cases the original woodblocks are no longer available and the only existing copies of the text are prints found in the National Library of Mongolia.

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