Traditional Clothing – Deel, Gutal
A deel is the Mongolian traditional garment worn on both workdays and special days. It’s a long loose gown cut in one piece with sleeves, it has a high collar and widely overlapped at the front. The deel is girdled with a sash. Each ethnic group living in Mongolia has its deel distinguished by cut, color and trimming.
Before the people’s revolution of 1921, all social strata in Mongolia had their own manner of dressing, Livestock breeders, for example, wore plain deels, which served them for both summer and winter. The lamas wore yellow deels with a shawl orkhimj, wrapped over the chest. Secular feudal lords put on smart hats and silk waistcoats.
The deel has several uses as a coat, as a blanket, and as a means of concealing yourself when going to the toilet on the open steppe. In the cities, especially older women, who appreciate the advantages of the deel and wear it, trying to best each other in their choice of fabric as well as in the elegance of the cut and originality of the trimmings. Commonly there are three varieties of deel, each for a particular season. The first, the dan deel, very much like a dress, is a frock cut in one piece from plain cloth without padding. Rural women wear dan deels all year around. In cold weather they put on warm clothes over them. Terleg is a slightly padded deel. And finally the winter deel is padded with sheepskin or cotton wool.
Gutuls are knee high, unheeled boots made from thick, stiff leather, decorated with leather applique. The toes of gutuls are upturned and several explanations have been offered for this unconventional style. One of the most plausible explanations is the religious motive. Lamas were traditionally forbidden from disturbing “the earth’s blessed sleep” i.e. kicking soil as they walked. The gutuls were designed to prevent them from harming the earth as they moved around on foot. Another explanation is that the unturned tip prevents a rider’s feet from slipping out of the stirrups. However, it’s also true that gutuls are so thick and rigid that if they were flat they would be almost impossible to walk in. These hefty boots are still worn in Ulaanbaatar and are particularly in the countryside.