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ResearchCentre for East Asian Studies Groningen

Invitation: "Rediscovering Mongolia's Manuscripts"

09 February 2015
Mongolia Invite
Mongolia Invite

Invitiation - Opening Photo Exibit:

Rediscovering Mongolia’s Manuscripts: preserving and restoring books at Gandan monastery

Mongolia’s transition from a socialist country towards a democracy has prompted a search for national identity and traditions. Gandan, the country’s main monastery, plays a central role to these developments.

The monastery holds a large collection of religious objects and its extensive yet dilapidated library contains a unique collection of Tibetan and Mongolian manuscripts. Most of these manuscripts have not been catalogued or studied. Their contents are simply not yet known.

Monks and nuns at Gandan are now cataloguing, digitizing and studying these fragile works. During this process the librarians discovered a number of manuscripts which were badly damaged by fungi.

With support of UNESCO and the Goethe Institute, monks and nuns at Gandan are restoring these texts before they are destroyed and lost. Dressed in protective clothing against the fungi, the restorers painstakingly reassemble and clean fragments of century-old texts.

Through this project, Mongolia is now literally reconstructing its past.

Mareike Günsche is a German photographer currently enrolled in the NOHA master’s programme International Humanitarian Action. In 2009, following her studies in photojournalism and documentary photography, she moved to Ulaanbaatar to work as an independent photographer.

Günsche’s work has received various awards, including the Canon Award for Young Professional Photographers, and has been exhibited throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. Before enrolling at the University of Groningen, Mareike Günsche worked for the news agency Thomson Reuters and a number of international NGO’s based in Ulaanbaatar.

For further information and photography on Mareike Günsche visit:

Rediscovering the Gandan manuscripts is exhibited by Globalisation Studies Groningen and the Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen as part of a wider effort to highlight NOHA and East Asian Studies in Groningen.

Last modified:06 February 2015 4.34 p.m.

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