Undur Gegeen Zanabazar’s prolific mastery of a wide range of disciplines, especially his ingenious ability to express the Buddha’s human and divine qualities in gilt-bronze sculpture, made him one of the most significant creators of Buddhist art. As an intellectual leader, he ushered 17th-century Mongolia into a cultural renaissance, the legacy of which continues to inspire artists to this day.
THE LEGEND OF ZANABAZAR’S DIVINE TARAS
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ZANABAZAR’S ART AND LIFE
Undur Gegeen Zanabazar is one of the most influential figures in Mongolia’s Buddhist history. He was the first Bogd Gegeen, a 17th-century Head of State and Faith. For a long time, Zanabazar was blamed for Mongolia’s submission to the Manchurian Empire. However, as an intellectual leader, he is renowned for having ushered the nation into a cultural renaissance. A closer look at the historical background of Buddhism in Mongolia and Undur Gegeen’s life could provide a deeper understanding of why Zanabazar’s work is an integral part of Mongolian art history.
THE SUBLIME SCULPTURES OF UNDUR GEGEEN ZANABAZAR
Much of East Asian art history is undeniably linked to Buddhism, and Mongolia is no exception. The gilt-bronze sculptures of Gombodorjiin Ishdorj (1635–1723), better known as Undur Gegeen Zanabazar, a 17th-century Mongolian Head of State and Faith, are an integral part of Buddhist art history.
SUKHBAATAR’S STATUE – THE FIGHT IS NOT OVER
Great monuments carry their significance from a bygone past into a faraway future. The Statue of Sukhbaatar is Mongolia’s foremost landmark that symbolizes not only the nation’s capital, but also the creed of its people. Ever since it was unveiled in the summer of 1946, the monument, located in the heart of the city, has been a witness to many life changing events for Mongolians. Today, as citizens of a democratic nation, united by the belief in liberty and prosperity for all, Mongolians have gotten used to the freedom that lies in their own hands. However, this has not always been the case. At the dawn of the 20th century, Mongolia, with a native population that hardly reached half a million, was a disorderly battlefield for ancient and nascent ideologies and their foreign and domestic defenders. As a result of the ongoing terror and bloodshed from all sides, the nation was on the verge of extinction.
STATE PALACE — INTIMIDATING OR INSPIRING?
The architecture of a parliamentary building usually reflects the culture and traditions of governance of a nation. In the summer of 2006, a new façade for the Mongolian State Parliament building was unveiled commemorating the 800th anniversary of the Great Mongol State. A seated statue of Chinggis Khaan occupies the center of the complex under a rectangular glass cupola supported by four white marble columns with gold capitals. Six more columns on both sides of the baldachin supporting windows in lieu of entablatures complete the central structure. Each side of the central unit are connected to fourteen more columns forming colonnades closed off by glass walls. Both colonnades lead to square loggias with smaller cupolas supported by ten columns each. They house seated statues of his third son Ugudei Khaan on the west side and grandson Khubilai Khaan, founder of Yuan dynasty, on the east side. A large open stairway in front of the central structure leads up to the monument of Chinggis Khaan. The inscription on his pedestal carved in classical Mongolian script reads, “The founder of the Great Mongol State heavenly ruler Chinggis Khaan”. Two warriors on horseback stand on both sides of the stairway. The architecture of this building with its new addition contains a wealth of symbolism that tell the story of how modern Mongolia came to be and gives an insight into the values that shape our culture.
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Hello! Thank you for visiting my website. My name is Ariunaa. I am a writer of art and culture articles, from Mongolia. Here is a place where creativity and beauty help make sense of life. Have a look. Take your time. Share your thoughts. Welcome to Artsaccessible!