Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mongolia | Bogd Khan Winter Palace Museum

Rain had been falling on and off most of the night. When I arose at 4:30 there was a brief lull, but by the time I had finished my orisons at 5:30 a steady pounding of precipitation could be heard on the hard ground outside my hovel. Bogd Khan Mountain to the south was lost in banks of fog. About mid-morning the rain began to taper off. By noon it was a slow drizzle and the fog had broken into streamers which twisted and curled over the ridges of Bogd Khan Mountain. Usually on rainy afternoons like this I like to Drink Shan Ling Xi Ooolong Tea and daydream about Kuchean Dancing Girls

Today I had to meet a friend of mine at the Bogd Khan Winter Palace Museum. I had not been there for several years, in fact not since the ceremonial gateway to the main temple complex had undergone a major facelift. There were several tourist buses outside in the parking lot and the lady at the door tried to make me buy a ticket, but I explained that I had some important business to discuss with my friend, who works for the museum as an historical consultant, and she let me in for free. I was early and my friend was a bit late, so I spent an enjoyable half-hour wandering around the grounds in the slight drizzle. 
 The Eighth Bogd Gegeen’s Winter Palace, now a museum
The recently restored front gate to the temple complex
Doors of the Front Gate
Detail of door panel 
 Detail of door panel 
 Dragons and Deer on the roof
Deer and the Wheel of Dharma
 One of the Guardian in the entrance way to the temples
Main Temple
My friend finally came and we retired to the office of the museum’s director, O. Mendsaikhan, located in the back of the temple complex, behind the main Laviran Temple. We were sitting there when Batsaikhan, the author of The Bodgo Jebtsundamba Khutukutu: The Last King of Mongolia, came strolling in, accompanied by a woman and a young man. Batsaikhan is a professional historian I have met on various occasions and we all chatted for a bit. Then he said, “Oh, I would like you to meet someone. This woman’s name is Shurentsetseg. She is the granddaughter of the Eighth Bogd Gegeen, and this young man is her son.” I must admit I was taken back. The Eighth Bogd Gegeen had official consorts I knew but I had never before heard that he had children. Upon further questioning it turned out she was the daughter of one the Bogd Gegeen’s adopted children. Apparently he had adopted three children. Thus he was not her biological grandfather, but her grandfather by law nevertheless. In any case, Batsaikhan was here at the museum to prepare a documentary about Shurentsetseg which is going to be shown on Mongolian TV.
Shurentsetseg (Coral Flower), daughter of the 8th Bogd Gegeen’s adopted child.
Shurentsetseg’s grandfather, the 8th Bogd Gegeen