The Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum

The Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum

Explore the History of The Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum and its Colletion of Unique Decorative Objects

THE MUSEUM
The Fine Arts G. Zanabazar Museum was founded in 1966. The museum is renowned for the works of G. Zanabazar (1635-1724), which include the statues of Sita Tara, the Five Dhayani Buddhas and the Bodhi Stupa. The Fine Arts Museum was named after Gombodorjiin Zanabazar in 1995. It has 12 exhibition galleries covering the arts from ancient civilizations up to the beginning of the 20th Century. Initially opened with over 300 exhibits, the Museum rapidly enriched the number of its objects, with the modern arts becoming a separate division in 1989 as an Arts Gallery.The Museum displays the artistic works of Mongolian masters of the 18-20th Centuries, coral masks, thangkas, as well as the famous paintings of B. Sharav entitled “A Day in Mongolia” and “Airag feast”. The Museum contains 13000 objects. The exhibition hall regularly hosts the works of contemporary artists. The G. Zanabazar Museum has been successfully cooperating with UNESCO for the improvement of the preservation of priceless exhibits and for training of the Museum staff.The tour of the museum begins at the 2nd floor, guiding through the following topics.
History and the building
The building of the Fine Arts Museum has a history going back more than 102 years. It is a monument of the history and culture of the city of Ulaanbaatar, and the first 2-storey building constructed in a ‘European style’. The Museum was built by the Russian merchant M. Gudwintsal in 1905 as a trade centre, and was later rented to a bank before being occupied by a Russian military commander’s office in 1921. In 1930 it became the central department store Undur Delguur, and in 1961 the building was used for a permanent exhibition of the Union of Mongolian Artists, shortly after, in 1966, the Fine Arts Museum was founded.

Undur Gegeen Zanabazar, the High Saint and First Bogd Jebtsundanba, is a great social and cultural personality, who contributed invaluably in the renaissance of arts, culture and literacy of Mongolia in 17-18th century. Zanabazar Gombodorj, the First Bogd Jebtsundanba of Khalkha Mongolia, renowned as Undur Gegeen (High Saint) among folks, was one of the main figures of state and religion of Mongolia in 17-18th century.

Undur Gegeen Zanabazar, the High Saint and First Bogd Jebtsundanba, invented the Soyombo in 1686.

There are over 20 ethnic groups in Mongolia, among which Khalkha is the predominant group taking more than 80 per cent of the population.


Each of Mongol ethnic groups has their own unique garment style, objects of use, accessories and jewelry that manifest their local customs and tradition. Since 16th century, the Khalkha women had the ‘winged coiffure’ hairstyle that was adorned with intricately designed large silver ornaments.

The snuff bottle and pouch were used among Mongolians upon the influence of Manchus and Chinese during the Manchu Qin Dynasty, but the Mongolian snuff bottle is distinguished with its design, technique and use of materials. The snuff bottle is not just a piece of precious stone but an artwork.

In making the snuff bottle out of precious stone, the craftsman pays careful attention to and uses the stone’s unique feature and natural formation carving it into a matchless pattern or design that identifies its distinctness, crafted artistry and the price. The main materials for Mongolian snuff bottles are the precious and semi-precious rare stones such as ‘khyung skyug norbu’ (jewel ejected from Garuda’s mouth), coral, chalcedony, jade, crystal, agate and sardonyx.

The Zaviya Teapot and its unique decorative details.

This big teapot of elaborate smithery has two spouts in the shape of a camel's neck on both sides, a handle in the shape of a sheep's head, a raised cattle figure wagging its tail on the lid, and a ‘hammer’ pattern on the lid's lower brim.

The lid and container have raised ‘zee bad’ pattern, incised ‘hammer’ pattern, and the snouts are in the shape of camel heads. There are a figure of a standing bull on the lid and two cattle heads on the handle.

The knife set is one of the main accessories of Mongolian men and comprises pendants, sheath, knife, chopsticks, strings and firestriker. These objects involve "plaited", "twisted", "butterfly", "fish", "fire", "swastika", "dragon", and "cross" patterns, which symbolize growing,multiplying, thriving and prospering.


The knife set has a bone sheath, which is decorated with the eight auspicious signs and foliate patterns. The masterpiece that reveals all kinds of smithery arts includes an iron knife with pigskin pendants that is decorated with flowers and foliate arabesque patterns and which is the one-mold cast.

The characters of Tsam religious dance are mostly wrathful Buddhas; hence their faces are depicted with fierce sharp eyes, open mouth, bared teeth and fangs and in sharp vivid colors. The mask is decorated with javdar hanging on temples, darjin covering the back and earrings, all of which are created with elaborate silk applique and embroidery with the crown and earrings carved. The mask is twice the size of human head and the Tsam dancers eyes look through the gap of the mouth.

In creating the Tsam masks, the mask mold is engraved in accordance with the iconographic design; the mask is made in paper-mache and is painted with colors
and ornamented.

The masks of wrathful deities have a diadem of five skulls, that symbolize the elimination of five evils of anger and hatred, jealousy, pride, ignorance and desire – the sources and causes if sins. The Vajrapani (Thunderbolt Holder) wears the diadem of five lotus petals, which has the same symbolic representation.

The Tsam dance boots have red bootlegs decorated with bone beads; the toecaps are in the shape of the head of greet matar (water dragon, literally meaning "crocodile"), with its mouth opened, fangs and teeth bared, pointed-up red nose, fierce protruded eyes are crafted in raised trapunto applique.

As matar is a vicious being that fed on meat of a thousand animals, it’s presented as an ornament on boots, symbolizing the eradication of the evil foes by trampling wrathfully. The top-ranked deities of the Khuree Tsam wear matar boots.

This silk applique artwork of "Shridevi", a masterpiece of Buddhist arts, was created by the masters upon a design sketch of an anonymous artist by inlaying precious jewels in the late 19th century and is now on display at The Fine Art Museum.

Despite her Mongolian name, "Girl" Shridevi possesses huge power and is presented in a fearful form with three eyes, great muscles, and flowing hair.


As a tradition in Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist monasteries Shridevi is invited, by chanting prayers at the New Year Eve of the lunar calendar, to accept the offerings and to ensure well being in the coming year. As Mongolians consider her as a "Mother" who visits every household that night, the families place three pieces of ice up to their gates to feed the mule she rides on.

In Great khuree, Sun province, Namsrai lama who draws the painting of buddhas and deities

This portrait matches the Zanabazar self-portrait in composition and color. Khandjamts was the mother of Zanabazar, one of the most important religious leaders in Mongolia, therefore she is presented here wearing a garment typical of lamas and holding a sutra. She is portrayed in this manner to demonstrate her importance within religious circles.

On the upper part of the portrait we can see Demchiggarav (Sitasamvara), the fifth Dalai Lama portrayed in half the size of Khandjamts.

Further down we can see five dakinis holding peaceful offerings of the "Five senses," beautifully seated on the clouds.

Credits: Story

The Fine Arts Zanabazar Museum

Credits- Exhibit :
Tsolmon Ganzorig.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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