He established a base on the Tuul river. Known as an intellectual he embraced the Karma sect and built monasteries and castles.
He submitted himself to Ligdan Khan, last grand khan of the Mongols. He took part in Ligdan’s campaign to Tibet to help the Karma sect although Ligdan Khan died in 1634 before they joined together. But he pursued the campaign. In the same year he conquered the Tümed around Kokonor (Qinghai Lake) and moved his base there. By request from Shamar Rabjampa he sent an army under his son Arslan to central Tibet in 1635. However, Arslan attacked his ally Tsang army. He met the fifth Dalai Lama and paid homage to Gelukpa monasteries instead of destroying them. Arslan was eventually assassinated by Tsoghtu’s order.
The Geluk sect asked for help Törü Bayikhu (Güshi Khan), the leader of the Khoshuud tribe of the Oirat confederation. In 1636 Törö Bayikhu led the Khoshuud and the Dzungars to Tibet. In the next year a decisive war between Tsoghtu Khong Tayiji and Törü Bayikhu ended in the latter’s victory and Tsoght was killed.
He has traditionally been portrayed as evil by the Geluk sect. On the other hand, the Mongolian movie “Tsogt taij” (1945) treated him as a national hero. It reflected the communist regime’s attitude toward Tibetan Buddhism
We are located two miles south of the College Mall. From College Mall Road which becomes Sare road), continue south to Rogers Road. At the flashing red ligh. Turn left on Rogers Road and go one half-mile to Snoddy Road. The TMBCC is one mile down on the left.
From Nashville on SR 46, turn left on Smith Road until you come to Snoddy Road. Coming south on SR 37, take the SR 45/46 Bloomington exit left which becomes College Mall and Sare Roads. Coming north on SR 37, take the Tapp Road exit right; the name changes to Country Club drive; that becomes Winslow Road, and finally becomes Rogers Road after 4 miles.
This film was created by Dechen Kelden, a Kalmyk Mongolian who was born and raised in Jackson, NJ. She is a current student at Sarah Lawrence College who took on this project to create an accessible film for young Kalmyks to learn about their history as an Oirat group from the Western Steppes of Mongolia. She is interested in Cultural Preservation studies and working within the Tibetan community based in New York City.
This film is currently a sample and will be expanded upon in the near future with additional interviews and a possible Russian translation.
American and Mongolian artists will collaborate and learn from each other, first in the field and then to create an exhibition of art inspired by the trip. There will be venues in both Mongolia and the USA. There will also be a book about the Expedition and the exhibition.
The art exhibition will be something new…not just beautiful finished art to view, but each artist will include at least one major work which will be accompanied by the visual and written story behind it- journal entries, field sketches, photographs, preliminary drawings, studies, models- whatever went into creating the finished piece.
Tahki mare and foal. charcoal pencil on paperTahki mare and foal. charcoal pencil on paper
The goal will be to not only share what we’ve seen, but to show how art is created from a journey like this. And I hope it will enlighten and educate people in both countries about the endangered wildlife and habitats of the Gobi.
My current plan is to debut the exhibition in Ulaanbaatar in July of 2013 to coincide with the national Naadam celebration, which is when many special events happen and visitors are coming in from all over the world. Then schedule the US showing for early fall.
The exhibition will also be permanently viewable online, for those who are unable to attend it in person.
The book will not only be an exhibition catalog of all the art and images of the supporting materials used for the major works, but also the official record of the Expedition, including journal excerpts, stories and also photos taken en route. It will be produced in at least two ways…an e-edition and a print-on-demand “real” book.
Journal entry, Orog Nuur (remote Gobi lake) July 2010Journal entry, Orog Nuur (remote Gobi lake) July 2010
THE CONSERVATION CONNECTION
The Mongols have a deeply embedded land ethic going back over 1000 years (the toes of the traditional herder’s boots are upturned so as not to scuff the earth) and there is substantial grassroots support for conservation. The arrival of extremely large mining projects, upon which Mongolia’s economic future depends, is a source of both hope and great concern. I would like this cross-culture collaboration to provide one way, through the arts, of showing how special the land and wildlife of Mongolia are. We will be visiting three areas with endangered species and habitats at risk. Artists can bring a very special focus and attention to conservation and environmental issues. The WildArt Mongolia Expedition is my way of doing this in one particular part of the world.
Many herders live in the Gobi; we’ll be visiting with them and learning about the challenges they faceMany herders live in the Gobi; we’ll be visiting with them and learning about the challenges they face
One of the trusty Russian fergon vans (photo from my 2006 trip to western Mongolia)One of the trusty Russian fergon vans (photo from my 2006 trip to western Mongolia)
Expedition arrangements are being made and staff provided by Nomadic Journeys, with whom I have traveled for five out of my six trips to Mongolia. We’ll be traveling in rugged go-anywhere Russian fergon vans, tent camping for 18 nights under millions of stars, surrounded by peace and quiet that’s almost impossible to find anymore.
The Expedition tent, housing the kitchen and dining area, along with work and relaxation space, will be a traditional Mongol summer tent called a “maikhan”. Donors at or above the $1000 level will have their names on the tent.
An example of a maikhan that I saw in July 2010 at a horsetrainers campAn example of a maikhan that I saw in July 2010 at a horsetrainers camp
I’ll be communicating directly with our donors through the project’s Kickstarter blog. Everyone who is interested can follow the Expedition’s Facebook public page, my own blog and a WildArt Mongolia Board on Pinterest. I will do my best to help you feel what it will be like to travel to an extraordinary place and see the animals, land and people of Mongolia, learn about the art and artists and the conservation challenges.
Bactrian camels, the Gobi, July 2010Bactrian camels, the Gobi, July 2010
PLEASE SUPPORT THE WILDART MONGOLIA EXPEDITION!
Support both art and conservation with one great donation
Funding goal: $5000
Your donation will support not only the three-week Expedition itself, including art materials, field equipment such as the maikhan and our guide, drivers and cook, but also the art exhibition and the WildArt Mongolia Expedition book.
Stone ovoo with a Soyombo, the national symbol of Mongolia, overlooks a Gobi landscape; it is festooned with khadag, blue offering scarvesStone ovoo with a Soyombo, the national symbol of Mongolia, overlooks a Gobi landscape; it is festooned with khadag, blue offering scarves
Thank you for your time and interest in The WildArt Mongolia Expedition!
Many thanks to Multicultural Media for the use of “Song of Praise; Altai yin magtagai”.
From the CD recording Mongolia: Living Music of the Steppes, Multicultural Media, available for download from iTunes or as a CD at http://www.worldmusicstore.com
In the Gobi the roads really do go ever on. Please join me on this artistic adventure by donating generously.In the Gobi the roads really do go ever on. Please join me on this artistic adventure by donating generously.
Journal entry,, July 2010Journal entry,, July 2010
Gers, Hustai National Park,Gers, Hustai National Park,
Rock formations, Baga Gazriin Chuluu, July 2009Rock formations, Baga Gazriin Chuluu, July 2009
That’s the Spot! 18×24″ oil on canvas; takhi photographed at Khomiin Tal, Sept. 2006That’s the Spot! 18×24″ oil on canvas; takhi photographed at Khomiin Tal, Sept. 2006
A tiny Jersey ethnic group traces its roots to Mongolia and Genghis Khan.
Route 9 and Freehold suggest Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and the lyrics, “Sprung from cages on Highway 9” and “Baby, this town rips the bones from your back.” They don’t conjure up the quietude of the three Buddhist temples and the Mongolian people known as the Kalmyks I encountered recently just off Route 9 and just south of Freehold.
Never heard of the Kalmyks? Neither had I, until I learned that this group of approximately 3,000 people—mostly New Jerseyans centered in Howell Township—is celebrating its 60th anniversary as Americans in 2011. New Jersey must indeed be the nation’s most ethnically diverse state if we have ethnic groups most of us have never even heard of. This year’s New Jersey Folk Festival, which often focuses on one of the state’s ethnic groups—its music, dance, and folklore—is featuring the Kalmyks on April 30 at an all-day event on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
The Kalmyks’ native land, Kalmykia, is one of the republics of the former USSR that remains within the Russian Federation today, with a population of about 350,000. It is the only predominantly Mongol and Buddhist land in Europe. Many Kalmyks, siding with the Whites against the Reds, fled the Soviet Union during the Bolshevik Revolution, and the remaining Kalmyks were deported to Siberia during World War II because of alleged anti-Soviet sympathies. It was not until 1951 that Kalmyks began to come to New Jersey. Earlier, they had been rejected under the Asian Exclusion Acts (repealed in 1943) and immigration quotas based on race (repealed in 1965). They found an ally in the United States Attorney General who argued that since Kalmykia is in European Russia, the Kalmyks are Europeans not Asians, going so far as to insist that they are “Caucasians”—which is silly, but so is racism.
Virtually all of the Kalmyks who began coming to New Jersey in 1951 had spent the years after World War II in displaced persons camps in Germany. They ended up there because, as the Nazis began their long retreat after the Battle of Stalingrad, some Kalmyks followed, staying just ahead of the Soviet Army.
Russian emigres living in the Howell area and the Tolstoy Foundation, which assists new immigrants, were instrumental in sponsoring the Kalmyks in New Jersey. In addition to the Kalmyk Buddhist temples there are several Russian Orthodox churches in Howell, as evidenced by their onion-shaped domes. Howell and Lakewood, farther south on Route 9, are thriving centers of Russo-American culture in New Jersey. (There also is a small Kalmyk contingent with one temple in Philadelphia.)
Originally a nomadic people, the Kalmyks were one of the innumerable tribes united by Genghis Khan in the course of conquering much of Europe and Asia in the 12th and early 13th centuries. When the Mongolian Empire faded into retreat, the Kalmyks were incorporated into Russia.
American Kalmyks speak English, of course, but may also speak Russian and Kalmyk. Anyone who has seen the Star Wars movies has heard Kalmyk spoken. It is the language of the Ewoks, those furry, cuddly bipeds living on the moon of Endor who, you may recall, were easily understood by the linguistically gifted robot, C-3PO.
It is almost as if one is on a New Jersey version of the moon of Endor when standing on Kalmuk Road (Kalmyk is spelled in a variety of ways) just short of where it becomes a dirt road leading to the Tashi Lhunpo Temple. The street may be considered the physical center of Kalmyk life in New Jersey; it inspired the title of a book in 2004, The Street—Kalmuk Road.
I find myself inside the temple’s social hall along with Maria Taunov and Augnel “Alta” Buruschkin, and also a monk serving us tea. I am told that the way to greet a monk is with a two-handed handshake, one’s forehead lowered onto the linked hands. The monk good-naturedly laughs at my clumsy greeting.
Most monks in Kalmyk temples are Tibetans. The Dalai Lama, recognized as the spiritual leader of the Kalmyks, has visited the Howell temples. Says Buruschkin, “I get up at 5 am every day and chant my prayers for two hours. This is what the Dalai Lama does, and I try to pattern myself after His Holiness.”
On arriving in their new land, most Kalmyks entered the building trades but, over the years, gravitated into electronics, professional careers and white-collar jobs. Buruschkin works for a consulting company. Taunov is a legal assistant at a New York City law firm, commuting to work and chanting her morning prayers quietly on the bus. On weekends she chants them at the altar found in most Kalmyk homes.
Taunov also teaches Buddhist principles to children at one of the temples on weekends. “There are great assimilationist pressures,” she says. “I know who I am, but I want Kalmyk children to know who they are.” Kalmyk families tend to be closer than other American families. Many households are multigenerational, and there is great deference paid to the elders as well as veneration of ancestors. “American freedom and openness are wonderful,” Taunov says, “but they make for more intermarriage and fewer children, because Kalmyk women, like other American women, don’t want to be confined to the home.”
I was introduced to Taunov and Buruschkin by Nicholas Olefer Jr., a Caucasian of Russian descent who is a convert to Buddhism and is on the New Jersey Folk Festival board. Olefer lives in Westchester County and practices and receives instruction at a Buddhist monastery in Carmel, New York. “No one cares who you are in a Buddhist environment; they care who your teacher is,” Olefer explains.
The Kalmyks believe in reincarnation—as do Hindus—but they prefer the term “rebirth.” I can’t say I really understand the difference, but I was struck by the eerie sincerity with which Buruschkin told me, “I lived during Buddha’s time, but I didn’t pay attention. Now I’m paying attention.”
Later in the day, the three took me to Rashi Gempil-Ling, another of the Buddhist temples just off Route 9. There were two buildings, a small one essentially empty except for a large prayer wheel—a round, beautifully decorated device believed to contain a million printed prayers wrapped around a central core. “We spin the wheel as a means of getting our prayers to multiply as they fly out into the world,” says Buruschkin, who has a small prayer wheel in his home.
We removed our shoes and entered the temple, where a service was going on. Everyone sat on the floor on pillows. One was handed to me, and I did my best to resurrect an earlier familiarity with the lotus position, only to develop a cramp in my left leg. The service was presided over by Art Engle, a Caucasian lay-teacher married to a Kalmyk woman. Engle has a PhD. in Buddhist studies from the University of Wisconsin. The service was conducted in Tibetan, and Engle swayed side to side as he chanted, as did many of those in attendance, including a Buddhist nun. I was struck by the fact that half the people at the service were non-Asian.
It was peaceful in the temple. I didn’t relish the prospect of facing the traffic for the drive home. The temple was only feet from Springsteen’s Route 9 and the suggestion, as in “Born to Run,” that one should flee the rapid pulse of New Jersey life. But in that temple, if only for a short while, I found an oasis of calm.
Contributing writer Michael Aaron Rockland’s two most recent books are Stones, a novel, and The George Washington Bridge: Poetry in Steel. A forthcoming memoir will cover the years he spent in Spain as a cultural attaché.
Experts agree that the rare specimen is from Mongolia
His Excellency Elbegdorj Tsakhia, President of Mongolia, appointed a delegation to inspect the Tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur that had been the subject of a May 20, 2012 auction by Heritage Auctions in New York City. The delegation included officials from Mongolia, Canada and the United States.
The inspection took place in the New York City area, on June 5, 2012, and proceeded with the full consent and assistance of Heritage Auctions and its consignor. The paleontologists who inspected the dinosaur, at the President’s request, included:
Philip Currie, MSc, PhD, FRSC
Professor and Canada Research Chair of Dinosaur Paleobiology at the University of
Alberta; and President of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Tsogtbaatar Khishigjav, PhD
Head of Paleontological Laboratory and Museum, Mongolian Academy of Sciences
Bolor Minjin, PhD
Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs
In addition, Mark Norell, PhD, Chairman and Curator, Division of Paleontology, at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, collaborated in a report, based on his previous viewing of the dinosaur.
The paleontologists unanimously concluded that the specimen originated in Mongolia, based on unique characteristics of the Tyrannosaurus bataar. The paleontologists prepared reports, which are available for viewing via links at the bottom of this article. Dr. Currie and Dr. Norell wrote that, “The general appearance of the animal and the color of the bones indicate to us that this is the skull and skeleton of a Tarbosaurus bataar (also known as Tyrannosaurus bataar) from the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia.”
Indeed the auction catalog itself had described and publicized the specimen as a Tyrannosaurus bataar, so there has never been a dispute as to the species.
In addition to the paleontologists, the following non-scientific representatives attended the inspection:
Ann Altman, PhD
Advisor to President Elbegdorj on the Tyrannosaurus bataar issue
Minister/Counselor, Mongolian Embassy to the United States
Director, Department of Culture and Art, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia
Attorney for President Elbegdorj
Attorney for President Elbegdorj
Senior Advisor to President Elbegdorj
Attorney Robert Painter said, “President Elbegdorj’s staff has initiated thorough research into Mongolian law concerning the preservation of cultural treasures, like this Tyrannosaurus. We have concluded that Mongolian law has not permitted export of this rare fossil out of Mongolia since at least 1961. Nonetheless, we understand that significant value was added to the specimen by the consignor through initial identification, restoration and preparation. We are also grateful for the exemplary cooperation of Heritage Auctions, the contingent buyer and the consignor, without which this inspection could have been long and needlessly delayed. All parties remain hopeful that a fair and acceptable resolution can be reached without need for additional expert opinions or litigation.”
The Mongolian delegation is now traveling back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon their return to Mongolia and reporting to President Elbegdorj, the parties will continue discussions on how to resolve this important matter.
(L to R) Professor Philip Currie, PhD (President of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology), Attorney Robert Painter, and Puntsag Tsagaan (Senior Advisor to the President of Mongolia) at the dinosaur inspection site.
Two of the world’s greatest scholars of Mongol history joined theircollaborators NG Emerging Explorer Albert Lin and NG Archaeology Fellow Fred Hiebert in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss their findings on the Valley of the Khans project, to meet with the Mongolian Ambassador to the U.S. Khasbazaryn Bekhbat, and to engage in other conversations around their exciting work.
For the past few years, Albert has been using cutting-edge technology and innovative crowd-sourcing methods to survey the vast openness of Mongolia in search of the area where Genghis Khan was buried. His collaborators have been uncovering the history of the Mongol leader quite a bit longer.
Professors Shagdaryn Bira and Tsogt-Ichiryn Ishdorj are internationally recognized as leaders in Mongol historical research, based on the decades of intense research they have done on the subject, helping to flesh out the story of the famous conqueror, and restoring a knowledge of the rich cultural impacts of his surprisingly modern empire–one that included free trade of goods and ideas, and freedom of religion for all.
Over the years, Bira and Ishdorj’s research has been difficult at times because of the scant clues in the written record and sensitive politics surrounding the legacy of Genghis Khan.
Professor Bira is now Secretary General of the International Association for Mongol Studies, and laureate of the state prize of Mongolia for his scholarly work on the history of the country. In particular, he has won international acclaim for his multifaceted research, including papers comparing modern and Mongol-era versions of globalization and warfare in the Middle East.
Professor Ishdorj is Deputy Director of the International Association for Mongol Studies, as well as Co-Principal Investigator and Mongolian Expedition Leader on the Valley of the Khans project. Together these scholars bring an incredible amount of historic information, cultural perspective, experience, and personal passion to the project.
2012 marks 850 years since the birth of Temujin, the Mongolian man who would unite his neighbors and conquer the known world under the title of Genghis Khan. After decades of research, years of hi-tech data gathering, and months of archaeological analysis, one more chapter in the long history of this man and his legacy is nearing completion. Stay tuned to discover what secret whispers may yet rise from the silent steppes.
Unbelievably enough, it’s officially spring. As with most of the country, the “wild winter” of “clime and punishment” predicted by the Farmer’s Almanac never materialized here in northwest Montana. While Whitefish received much less snow than usual, Polebridge did see its typical two feet on the ground, but the temps were mild—relatively speaking. I guess it’s just as well since half our woodpile was (and still is) ensconced in a three-inch-thick sheet of ice.
Although we didn’t spend as much time at the yurt this winter as we would have liked, we have gotten a lot done in terms of decorating. We now have a proper bed, a nearly functional kitchen area, and, hallelujah, a composting toilet that works great (so far).
The goal now is to sit still for the summer and enjoy the yurt in comfort. I would like to attempt a small vegetable garden, which will be…