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Craftsman makes a life of artistry

2021-03-16 (

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Altandush with a silver snuff bottle. [Provided to]

Sitting in his workshop, Altandush carefully makes a silver snuff bottle.

Born in 1982 in Ordos, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Altandush has made a productive life after losing legs at the age of 5 after a medical mistake.

His interest in traditional Mongolian handcrafts gave him the courage to carry on.

He began learning to carve snuff bottles at the age of 12. At 18, he started to make silver products under the tutelage of his father.

His intelligence and hard work paid off. In 2013, a snuff bottle he had made set a Guinness record as the biggest in the world. It weights 20.5 kilograms and bears 12 zodiac symbols. The bottle was inlaid with 271 grams of coral and 80 grams of turquoise.

Four years later, Altandush set another Guinness record with a large bronze bowl, capped with silver. The bowl weighs 107.5 kg, and is 35 centimeters tall. It took a year to make.


The bronze bowl wrapped in silver that was honored by Guinness World Records in 2017.  [Provided to]

In 2018, Altandush set up his own company, designing and producing various silver products, accessories, and art. His 40 employees are from different ethnic minority groups, including Han, Mongolian, Lahu and Bai. Several of them are also disabled in some way.

"It does not mean they are incapable of working," Altandush said. "The problem is giving them courage to overcome the sense of inferiority and engage with society."

In 2020, the company sold more than 600 silver bowls, each priced from 2,000 yuan ($307) to 10,000 yuan. Products have also been sold in other countries, including Mongolia, Russia and the United States.

"It is important to inherit the craftsmanship of Mongolian tradition," he said. "Meanwhile, we need to keep up with market demand and be creative."

Altandush also maintains accounts on different social media platforms and uploads videos to introduce his silver products.

"I hope more people will come to see the beauty of Mongolian silver products," he said.


A Mongolian silver bowl made by Altandush. [Provided to]