ZANABAZAR GOMBODORJ

Bogdo Zanabazar, also known as Undur Gegeen Zanabazar and Bogd Jivzundamba (1635-1723), was the grandson of Avtai Sain Khan and a direct descendant of Ghinggis Khan. Zanabazar was the First Resplendent Saint of Mongolia, most noted for making an inestimable contribution to the development of the Mongolian fine arts.

Identified as the Khalkhyn Gegeenten (Holy Saint) at the Danshig Festival of Shireet Tsagaan Nuur in 1641 Zanabazar undertook religious studies in Tibet as a young child, and received the title of First Khalkh Incarnation of the Bogd Jetsundamba.

Upon return to his homeland, Zanabazar began to play an active role in the construction of monasteries and temples in the Mongol styles with influences from East Asia.

In addition, Zanabazar produced a series of sculptures classified today as belonging to the style of the “Zanabazar school”, characterized as hollow yet seamless brass castings expressing the ideals of philosophy, beauty and mercy. Examples of such works exhibited here are the “Dhyani Buddhas”, “White Tara”, and “Bodhi Stupa”.

Zanabazar created the ideogram “Svayambhu”, meaning ‘self-sprung’ in 1686, from which Mongolia’s first script was derived. Today the state symbol of Mongolia was intended to express the idea “may the Mongol nation exist by its own right”. The Svayambhu symbol and alphabet are displayed here.

Zanabazar earned his place in art history by innovating the static artistic model of eastern and Buddhist works through combining religious and traditional folk arts by replicating the human figure, enriched by the traditional Mongol concept of beauty in his representations of deities.

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