ZANABAZAR.G ARTS

 G. Zanabazar (the first Bogdo of Khalkha, a reincarnation of Jebtsundamba, and often referred to as Öndör Gegeen).

        He is one of the most fascinating persons of Mongolian art history and Mongolian history in general. Öndör Gegen Zanabazar could study in Tibet thanks to the close political and religious connections between Tibet and Mongolia in the 17th century. This period was the time of the 5th Dalai Lama, the head of the Gelug sect (Yellow-hat sect), who lead the country as a theocratic ruler. Buddhism flourished in Tibet and lots of Mongolian monks studied in Lhasa. Among them one of the most significant persons was Zanabazar. Returning to Mongolia he started a unique career. As a reincarnation of Taranatha he received the name of Wisdom Vajra that is Jñāna-Vajra in Sanskrit and this name twisted to Zanabazar in everyday use. He studied in the monasteries of Kumbum, Tashilhunpo and Lhasa. He worked as a sculpture and architect, but he was a political and religious leader too.

        As a sculptur his speciality was the so-called lost-wax casting. In terms of quality his sculptures are masterpieces. The whole body is cast as one piece, the separately made underside is richly decorated, and the joining of these pieces is invisible. His pieces radiate harmony and softness. He contributed to the development of more art branches, but his work within sculpture is prominent. Zanabazar discovered a casting method which allowed him to create statues without the need for welding.

       The first Jebtsundamba Khutugtu that is Zanabazar was born in 1635 in Mongolian field. He is the first khutugtu we historically know about but the Jebtsundamba has been born in other universe 15 times before, the very first time during Sakyamuni Buddha`s time. Öndör gegen Zanabazar was the Tüsheetü khan’s (Gombodorji) son, and Abatai khan`s grandson and this way Genghis khan`s direct descendant. His father wished him to go into the service of the Buddhist church. He was only 4 years old when he was appointed as the head of a monastery near Tsagaan-nuur. His position was steadied by his noble background, it might have helped his way during all his life. Although he has been widely respected by this time, he was named Taranatha`s reincarnation only in the middle of the 17th century by the Dalai Lama. Taranatha (born in 1573 in Tibet) was the last of the mentioned 15 previous reincarnations. He was given the title of Jebtsundamba khutugtu. Accepting the title he acknowledged the supremacy of the Dalai Lama and the Gelug sect. He wanted to stay in Tibet to continue his religious studies but the Dalai Lama wished him to return to Mongolia to spread the faith. He not only simply returned home in 1651, but took craftsmen, artists and monks with himself, more than 600 of them. They started building monasteries to help spreading the Gelug sect`s power which resulted in abandoning the previously supported Sakya sect`s belief.

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