The Mongolian Ger at ANU. Photo by Stuart Hay.

The Mongolian Ger at ANU. Photo by Stuart Hay.

A gift of friendship

A decade-long discussion between ANU and the Mongolian Government brought a bright and welcome gift to the University, as RICHARD FOX reports.

Standing on the lawns outside the historic HC Coombs Building is a glorious symbol of Mongolian life.

Hand-crafted woodwork with ornate details, authentic cow hides, handmade ropes and twine create a traditional Mongolian ger. No nails or screws hold it together.

A ger - also known as a yurt - is a portable, round tent covered with felt or animal skins that is used as shelter for nomads across Central Asia.

Gers have been a distinctive feature of Central Asian life for at least 3,000 years.

The structure is a latticework of wood or bamboo walls, a door frame, poles and rafters around a wheel, also known as the crown.

And while the attention to detail in the Ger itself is stunning, the story behind how the ger arrived at ANU is just as intriguing.

About a decade ago, ANU School of Culture, History and Language researcher Professor Li Narangoa suggested to then ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Chubb AC that a ger should be part of his initiative to brighten up the campus.

Chubb liked the idea and its construction was part of discussions between him and the Mongolian Government that led the founding of the Mongolian Studies Centre within the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

The Mongolian Government asked some of its finest workers with crafting a ger as a gift of the relationship between the country and the University.

The ger at ANU is a gift from President His Excellency Tsakhigiin Elbegdorj and is the first such gift at an Australian university.