Symbols on the Mongolian dollars printed in 1921

Rodica Pop

Symbols on the Mongolian dollars printed in 1921

(60th Meeting of the PIAC, Székesfehérvár 2017)

A communism-orientated state such as Mongolia was unexpected in orthodox Marxism, and would probably not have happened if there was no foreign occupation. After a brief period of constitutional monarchy, the Mongolian People’s Republic was established in 1924 which would last until 1992.

High economic, cultural, and scientific achievements of the Mongol people were sadly left in oblivion under the centuries of long oppression of the Qing Dynasty. Only in 1921, following the victory of the People’s Revolution, newly independent Mongolia regained the chance to restore its own monetary system. At that time Mongolia lacked an efficient financial system and the currency of Russia and China, gold and silver coins issued in England, in the US, or in Mexico, Chinese or Manchu silver blocks called Yumbuu, yaks, camels, horses, other livestock, tea and fur were functioning as medium of exchange.

The dollar was the currency of Mongolia between 1921 and 1925. Treasury notes were issued under Baron Ungern in 1921. The denominations were 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. It was intended to replace the Chinese yuan which, according to European travellers of the time, was worthless. Further banknotes were printed in 1924, in denominations of 50 cents, 1, 3, 5, 10 and 25 dollars, but were not issued. The dollar, together with other circulating currencies, was replaced by the tögrök in 1925.

There are many patterns and symbols present in Mongolian life that have existed in the country for hundreds of years. You see them everywhere: on clothes, jewellery, wallets, baked goods, cups, dishes, furniture, doorways, buildings, etc. We find them also printed on the Mongolian banknotes. Knowing what these symbols mean and why they are put where they are can give us a rare insight into the inner workings of Mongolian culture.