Showing posts with label Töv Aimag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Töv Aimag. Show all posts

Monday, August 16, 2021

Mongolia | Töv Aimag | Günjiin Süm | Temple of the Peaceful Princess

The 1657 danshig naadam held for Zanabazar at Erdene Zuu after his return from his second trip to Tibet marked the ascension of his influence among his Mongolian followers. As the Russian ethnographer A. Pozdneev points out, “The Gegen’s might in Eastern Khalkha reached its extreme limits at this time; they believed in him and came to him with the most extraordinary requests.” For instance, his nephew Galdandorj, son of the Tüsheet Khan, met with Zanabazar and implored him to cure his wife’s infertility and grant him a son. After numerous such entreaties Zanabazar finally said: 
I know that thou wouldst need a son; therefore when I set out in a miraculous manner for Tibet, I visited there the mountain of the hermits, and in a certain cave I found a lama named Arthasiddha, a reincarnation of Vajrapani. I told him that there was one prince among us who needed a son, and asked him for that; he replied to me that when he had completed his meditation he would be ready to be reborn as the son of that prince. In proof of his fairness, I demanded that he give me an acknowledgement, and I now present it to thee. This lama died today, and his soul ought to be incarnated in the womb of thy wife. 
Galdandorj’s wife did shortly thereafter become pregnant and eventually gave birth to a son who was given the name Dondovdorj. 

After Zanabazar recognized Manchu suzerainty in 1691 the Qing emperor awarded Galdandorj the title of Darkhan Chinwang (Chinese = qinwang, prince of the 1st rank). His son Dondovdorj was brought up in Beijing, in the Qing court of Kangxi, and in 1697 the emperor gave him a princess to marry. Most sources state that the princess, named Khichenguy Amarlinguy, was one of Kangxi’s own daughters, while some maintain she was the daughter of one of the first degree Qing princes. In either case, his marriage led to Dondovdorj’s further advancement in the Qing court, and in 1700, after his father’s death, he too was awarded the title of Darkhan Chinwang, in addition to becoming the new Tüsheet Khan. Dondovdorj was, however, a notorious boozer, a devil-may-care lady’s man, an all-around roisterer, and a poet to boot, and after egregious affronts to public decorum he was finally forced to relinquish both his position as Tüsheet Khan and his Qing title of Darkhan Chinwang. 

Reduced in rank to a second-degree prince, Dondovdorj returned to Mongolia, presumably with his Manchu wife. He eventually distinguished himself on the battlefield and apparently fought against the resurgent Zungarian Mongols who under the leadership of Galdan Bolshigt’s nephew Tsevan Ravdan had invaded Tibet in 1716. 

The Qing emperor Kangxi died in 1722. Zanabazar was in Mongolia at the time of Kangxi’s death. He immediately decided to return to Beijing and pay his respects to Kangxi’s remains, even though he was in his late eighties at the time. Accompanying him was Dondovdorj. The new Qing emperor, Kangxi’s son Yongzheng, forgave Dondovdorj’s previous transgressions and he was again elevated to the title of Darkhan Chinwang. As an additional perk he was given yet another Manchu princess in marriage. 

Not long after his arrival in Beijing Zanabazar fell ill. Sensing that his end might be nearing, his attendants asked him where and under what circumstances he would be reborn. According to tradition, Zanabazar replied, “The second wang [Dondovdorj] should bring into his home a maiden belonging according to birth to the year of the monkey or chicken.” This was interpreted to mean that Dondovdorj was to find a Mongolian girl born in either the year of the monkey or the chicken and that the second Bogd Gegeen would be born to her. Apprised of this prophesy, the emperor Yongzheng gave Dondovdorj permission to immediately return home and seek a new wife. Back in Mongolia Dondovdorj straight away found a nineteen-year old woman named Tsagaan-Dara-Bayartu who had been born in the year of the monkey, and just a month or so after his marriage to his second Manchu princess he took her as his third wife. 

Zanabazar himself died in 1723 at the Yellow Temple in Beijing. In 1724, “at daybreak on the first day of the middle of the spring moon in the Wood Dragon year,” a son was born to Tsagaan-Dara-Bayartu. In 1728 the boy took his first monastic vows and was given the name Luvsandanbidonme. In 1729 he was declared the Second Bogd Gegeen, the seventeenth incarnation of Javzandamba. 

Dondovdorj’s second Manchu wife faded into the background and nothing more seems to be known of her. To this day, however, numerous folktales exist about the first one, Khichenguy Amarlinguy, who moved to Mongolia to live with her husband and eventually had seven sons by him. “The Peaceful Princess,” as she was called, came to love her adopted country and its people. She considered herself a Mongolian and according to legend she said that when she died she wished to be buried in Mongolia: “It is unnecessary to take my corpse back to China for burial. I became a Mongol person because of being the wife of a Mongol. It is thus necessary to bury me in Mongolia.” 

Yongzheng’s successor, Qianlong, apparently heard about the princess’s wish and after she died in 1739 or 1740 he ordered that a temple be built to hold her remains. Günjiin Süm, as the temple was called, consisted of five parts: a stele tower, the Bogd Entrance, a guard house, the central temple, and the grave of the princess. The complex was heavily damaged in the 1930s, however, and of the guardhouse and the Bogd Entrance now only remnants remain. The stele tower just in front of the entrance to the temple compound has been restored, however, and inside is a stone turtle with a stele mounted on its back bearing an inscription in Chinese and Manchurian, dedicating the temple to “The Peaceful Princess” (in some renderings the “The Quiet Princess”).
The Temple (click on photos for enlargement)
The temple itself was gutted but the shell remains and has been restored to a certain extent. The eight-foot-high brick wall around the temple encompassing a square about 200 feet long on each side is still in fairly good shape on three sides.
North side of the walled compound
The princess’s grave, behind the temple, was reportedly looted in the early thirties not, according to local informants, by communist iconoclasts, but by common thieves looking for gold, silver, and other valuables believed to have been buried with her.
The Peaceful Princess’s Looted Tomb
Researchers examining the site in 1949 found remains of the princess’s sandalwood coffin and what were apparently the ashes of her body, which had been burned by the looters. Next to the coffin was a body of a heavy-set man preserved sitting upright in the lotus position. His identity is unknown. The ashes of the princess have since been scattered to the four winds.

Location: N48°11.009 – E107°33.379, 35.6 miles northeast of Ulaanbaatar as the crow flies and sixty-four miles by road via the tourist center of Terelj; at the upper end of Khökh Chuluutyn Gol, a small tributary of the Dund Bayangiin Gol, which flows into the Tuul River near Terelj. Accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicle, as several small streams north of Terelj must be crossed. In summer it might be necessary to walk the last mile or so because of the swampy road, but in winter, when the ground is frozen, it is possible to drive the whole way, assuming there is not too much snow.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mongolia | Töv Aimag | Aryaval Khiid

Wandered by the crib of Bayantsagaan, head of Lam Rim Khiid near Gandan. He had called and asked me to stop and discuss a book he was writing. He does not speak much English and of course my Mongolian is limited, but we usually manage to get by without a translator. Indeed, we had no problem discussing the publishing project he had in mind. But then he started talking about Aryaval Khiid, another temple in Terelj National Park north of Ulaanbaatar which he himself had founded. He could not seem to get his point across, so he got out his mobile phone, a new smart phone the brand of which I did not notice (I am not a mobile phone freak) and made a video-call to his daughter in the United States. Holding the phone in front of us, we had her translate while we watched her on the screen. So, I thought, this is the world we live in; we are sitting in Mongolia and making a video call to the United States to have someone translate for us. His daughter, Erdenetsetseg, is currently in Las Vegas. What is the daughter of a lama who is also a noted author, artist, sculptor, and founder of temples doing in Las Vegas? Let’s just say the apple did not fall close to the tree. 
 Erdenetsetseg (her name means “Glorious Flower”)
What Bayantsagaan wanted to tell me was that he had made various additions to Aryaval Khiid over the past summer.  I have made innumerable visits to Aryaval Khiid over the years (also see Here and Here, and also the  Aryaval Temple Brochure I made) and even have photos of the temple in various phases of its construction. So he was wondering if I would go out and document the latest features. These included a paved walkway from the parking lot to the temple which is lined with placards and four new rock carvings on the cliffs above with temple which Bayantsagaan himself had done. 

It was a chilly 35º degrees below 0 F (–37º C.) at 8:30 a.m. on the morning we went to the temple. Although the place is usually jammed with tourists, pilgrims, and local day-trippers in the summertime we were not surprisingly the only people there on this frigid day. 
New walkway from the parking lot to the temple
Sarantuya, who kindly agreed to drive me to Aryaval Khiid, by one of the signs
Rock Carving of the White Grandfather Buddhist Teacher, a common motif in Mongolian Buddhism
Detail of the White Grandfather 
Another change since I was at Aryaval last is that several of the already existing rock carvings have been painted.
Newly-painted Buddha Rock Carving 
Buddha Rock Carving in summertime before it was painted. (Don’t tell anyone, but I think it looked better unpainted.)
Detail of Buddha Rock Carving
Sarantuya offering a khadag at the Buddha rock carving in more salubrious weather
Sign on the path to the temple: “It is hardly likely that one could easily follow the highest path of the Buddha when it is so difficult to follow just an ordinary path in this degenerate age.” 
Another sign on the path to the temple
Bridge leading to the Aryaval Temple
Bridge leading to Aryaval Temple. The sign says, “The Bridge to Deliver You Beyond Wisdom.”
Aryaval Khiid
The new rock carvings by Bayantsagaan on the cliffs above the temple turned out to be mostly covred with snow, so I could not get good photos.
The four new stone carvings by Bayantsagaan can barely be made out in this photo
Three of the stone carvings can be seen here
A slightly better view of one of the stone carvings
These carvings—the Power of Ten Symbol and the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra have been here for awhile, but have recently been painted.
As soon as the snow is gone—either blown off or melted—I will return to Aryaval and get better photos of the new carvings. But don’t hold your breath.