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