Traditional utensils do not have much variety, as dictated by the nomadic lifestyle of the Kalmyks. Materials used are mainly those that are locally available, including skin, wood, metals, and bones. Cast iron kettles, called hyasn, of various volumes and mounted on tripods, are used to cook meals, brew tea, and distil milk vodka. Utensils made of skin are divided into the following types according to their purpose: Utensils used for eating food, for storing food and beverages, for distilling milk vodka, and for storing water. Wood is used to make cups, plates, and containers of various sizes and shapes. The bottom edge of wooden tea cups, called aag, is usually decorated with silver strips. Kalmyk tea is kept in special wooden pots called dombo. Other utensils made of wood include spoons and chests.

Today the full list of traditional utensils can be seen only in museums. Many utensils, especially those passed down the generations, are also kept by Kalmyk families as relics.

Aleksandr Koshevoi, Donzhik

Donzhik is a vessel to keep water and other liquids. Aleksandr displays a donzhik from brass that he made for the occasion of the 550th anniversary of the epos Jangar. The donzhik is conical in shape, and it has various traditional signs and symbols engraved on it. The handle is made in the shape of a dragon.

Aleksandr says that in the past donzhiks were made from wood or silver. It has a lid. The description of this vessel can be found in the diaries of Zhitetsky, at the Ethnographic Museum in St Petersburg, as well as in Mongolian sources.


Badma Amulakova, Drink Containers Made From Skin