Photos of the Culture of Mongolia

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Culture of Mongolia

The culture of Mongolia is rooted in the nomadic way of life, going back thousands of years. Shamanism - the practice involving a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world - was the ancient religion of the Mongols and the peoples of Siberia and still has an influence, although Tibetan Buddhism has been the dominant religion since the 17th century.

Traditional costumes
 
Shamanism in Sükhbaatar
 
The Soyombo
 
Tangka on display
 
Buddha statue
 
Zaisan Memorial mural
 
Migjid Janraisig statue
 
Genghis Khan Statue
 
Genghis Khan enters
 
Sükhbaatar riding past
 
Mongolian costumes
 
Entrance to site
 
Mongolian inscription
 
Inscribed stone
 
Stupa Memorial
 
Genghis Khan painting
 
Mongolian painting
 
Wrestling painting
 
Mongolian painting
 
Mongolian noblewoman
 
Sükhbaatar and Lenin
 
Dalai Lama Thangka
 
Mahakala Thangka
 
Avalokiteshvara
 
Vandanshavaraba
 
Wheel of Life
 
Temple wall painting
 
Wall painting
 
Prayer flags
 
Statue of Sükhbaatar
 
Temujin Hotel painting
 
Warriors painting
 
Shaman and wrestler
 
Deer stone head
 
Deer stones carving
 
Deer stones detail
 

There are still shamanistic practices that have survived, like the rituals at the ovoo, a shamanistic cairn used in worship of the mountains and sky; rocks may be added to the pile and offerings left behind. A branch or stick may be placed in it and a blue khadag, a ceremonial silk scarf symbolic of the open sky and the sky spirit Tengger, or Tengri, tied to the branch.

Both Buddhism and shamanism were suppressed in communist days but are experiencing a revival and new Buddha statues have been erected and may be painted with gold coloured paint. Tibetan style stupas are placed near monasteries that have been restored or rebuilt. Thangkas or Tangka, a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, are wonderful examples of Buddhist art and there are many examples of wall paintings still to be seen in temples that wee left standing. There are also paintings of the old Mongolian life of nobles and horsemen and Mongolians love to dress in the traditional costumes during festivals like Naadam.

A recurrent theme is the "Father of the Nation", Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan); there are numerous depictions of him, in paintings and in statues, including the largest equestrian statue in the world, 40 metres tall and 250 tons of stainless steel at Tsonjin Boldog, 54 kilometres east of the Ulaanbaatar, where according to legend, he found a golden whip. Another hero, Damdin Sükhbaatar, the "Father of Mongolia's Revolution" is honoured in paintings and statues while both may be displayed in parades, on horseback of course.

There are examples of ancient culture going back to the Bronze Age, like the famous "deer stones", carved standing stones featuring flying deer in high relief, carved between 1500 and 800 BCE. A good example of these are within an emplacement of sacrificial mounds ("khereksuur") in Uushigiin Övör, 20 kilometres west of Mörön.