It is a customary thing for foreign tourists to buy locally-made souvenirs as a medium to document their travel experiences or for people to give souvenirs to foreign guests that reflect domestic traditional and cultural elements. However, two young Mongolian entrepreneurs and creators B.Zoljargal and M.Turtogtokh find that in Mongolia, there are not many types of souvenirs, memorabilia or items of mementos that can be collected or gifted to others.
Quality and designs of souvenirs sold in Mongolia seemed somewhat limited. Therefore, they decided to create avant-garde items that have Mongolian national style. Their invention was 2D and 3D wooden puzzle games, including a puzzle in the shape of a Mongolian traditional Ger dwelling.
In one year since they started making their products in April 2015, they already founded their company ‘Urgoo Puzzle’ and met with professional experts to learn about Mongolian traditions including symbol patterns. Although the Urgoo Puzzle Company first started with two people Zoljargal and Turtogtokh, classmates in an information technology engineering class, they now have 7 employees.
The founders Zoljargal and Turtogtokh consider that the small-sized Ger puzzles will help Mongolians remember their roots and not become estranged from their traditions domestic lives and customs. In an interview given to the Mongolian unread.today website, they said that games are a tangible way for foreign tourists to preserve and commemorate their intangible experience distinguishing every new innovation in the country and the world.
Urgoo Puzzle founder Zoljargal and production manager Manlai
Several special features are in the handmade puzzle games. First all the Ger puzzles are fully furnished, including beds, a storage box (avdar), table, fireplace, cupboard, hide skin bag for airag (Mongolian tradition dairy milk drinks) and other furniture you can find today’s nomadic Mongolia family’s home. Assembly instructions are included in the puzzle box. As the puzzles are miniaturized versions of the real Mongolian Ger, they are put together using exactly the same procedures and orders as a Ger. A regular Ger with 5 sets of wall takes around 3-4 hours to assemble. The people who assemble the puzzle will learn a lot more about the classic Mongolian Ger traditions that express Mongolian concepts of symbolism. Thus, their works contribute to the promotion and preservation of the traditions and customs of Mongolia.
Customers can order their products as how they wish, choosing the color, patterns and its furniture and have their orders delivered to them within three days. The company also pays the same attention to after-sales service as production, such as maintaining connections with the buyers and helping them assemble and replace furniture. The founders said that the most important aspect of their business principle is to maintain the highest quality of their products. In this regard, they sometimes use materials from abroad. They even spend several months on choosing felts to use in their products. Now they are making different sized Ger puzzles, such as small sized at 40x40 cm and medium 60x60. Just recently, they completed making a new Ger with 8 sets of wall, measuring 90x90. Such large sized Gers are used for hosting large events, such as a congress. Aside from their brand product Ger puzzle games, they also produce a large number of accessory items of the puzzle and other souvenir products, including puzzle livestock animals and horse hitching posts.
Last summer, foreign travellers arriving in Mongolia had their eyes on their products, especially the Ger puzzle. “The founder Zoljargal gave a Ger puzzle he made to his friend who operates a tourist camp in the countryside. One day, foreign tourists staying at the camp were very interested in it which led to an auction sale for the Ger, and a French tourist purchased the Ger for EUR 2 thousand,” laughed Zoljargal, a promising young entrepreneur.
Photo source: unread.today
The article is featured in the Mongol Messenger's issue No. 36 for September 9, 2016.