Thursday, September 2, 2021

Silk Road | Cook Books and Recipes

Just beefed up the Silk Road Section of my Scriptorium with two new cooking titles: the first is Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey. I am an omnivore but I do like vegetarian repasts and this coffee table-type book has some great recipes to say nothing of nice photos and interesting essays on various aspects of the Silk Road. 


I have read through both books and will have updates on the various recipes soon. In the meantime here is a Good Kebab Recipe from Sasha Martin at Global Table Adventure.
Mouth-wateringly delectable Kebabs 
Sasha Martin It’s hard to say which is the most intoxicating, the wine or her eyes.
Although I have had it in the Scriptorium for quite a while, perhaps now is the proper time to mention A Baghdad Cookery Book

This book is not only of culinary but also of historical interest, since it dates to the thirteenth century, presumably before the arrival of Khülügu Khan in Baghdad in 1258. Arabist A. J. Arberry first translated the text in 1939; the current translation is by culinary historian Charles Perry. Provides some interesting insights into what was tickling the palates of Mesopotamians during the Caliphate. For more on this you might also want to see Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Mongolia | Zaisan Tolgoi | Galleria | Artist Anunaran

I have been somewhat remiss in noting changes to the Galleria of my Hovel In Zaisan Tolgoi. Here are two works by Ulaanbaatar Artist Anunaran. She and her partner Dorje Derem, who is also an well-known UB artiste,  installed them. 
 Anunaran prepping her palette
 Anunaran putting some finishing touches on her self-portrait
 Anunaran putting some final touches on her self-portrait
 Anunaran and her self-portrait 
 Anunaran and Dorje Derem with self-portrait (Dorje Derem’s name by the way, might be translated as “Vajra Guardian of Shambhala”, at least according to one interpretation). 
 Anunaran putting the final touches on her installation which I call “Dreams of Foxes”.
 Making final adjustments
At the bottom of each hanging string is an image of a fox fashioned from felt. This is based on the Mongolian belief that if you hang an image of a fox over a baby’s crib the baby will not have bad dreams. 
 Anunaran and Dorje Derem with Foxes installion
  Anunaran
Anunaran in Artist Mode

Anunaran is also a well-known professional model. Here she is in Model Mode (not my photo). See her Facebook Page.

 Anunaran (not my photo)


Anunaran working the sultry look (not my photo)

Anunaran also helps organize a dance troop which performs at various places of interest, including Aryaval Temple.
Performance artists at Aryaval Temple 
 Performing at Aryaval (not my photos)

Mongolia | Zaisan Tolgoi | Hovel

Galleria of my hovel. In the center is a nineteenth century Armenian carpet with Tree of Life design. The construction hanging from the ceiling is by Anunaran
(Click on photos for enlargement)
 Better look at Armenian carpet
Detail of Armenian carpet

North Macedonia | Demir Kapiya | Popova Kula Winery


I only indulge in two kinds of alcoholic drinks—airag (fermented mares’ milk) and wine (please don’t get me started on Low-Life Beer Drinkers). Airag is found throughout Inner Asia but is perhaps most common in Mongolia, with Övörkhangai Aimag arguably being the Airag Capital of the World. As for wine, I drink only wine indigenous to the place I happen to be at the time. 

During my last three months in Mongolia I had not been to the countryside, where the best airag is found, even once, and none of my usual sources brought any airag to my Hovel in Zaisan Tolgoi, so I had not been able to partake of this stimulating and healthy (it is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals) beverage. And there is no wine indigenous to Mongolia (I am not counting a dubious Mongolian-produced wine made from unidentifiable “fruits”), so basically I was on the wagon for three months. 

I am now in Macedonia, however, which boasts of a number of indigenous wines. “Indigenous” can mean a number of things. It can simply mean locally grown wine, regardless of the variety of grapes used to make it. Macedonia produces all the usual suspects where wine is concerned—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, etc., but all of these varieties of grapes originated outside of the Balkans and have been replanted here. I am not concerned with these. Macedonia also produces wine made from grapes indigenous to the Balkan Peninsula, of which Macedonia is a part, including Vranac, Žilavka, Temjanika, etc. Not being a stickler in these matters, I am willing to drink wine made from grapes indigenous to the Balkan Peninsula, if not necessarily Macedonia. However, Macedonia also has at least one wine made from a variety of grapes which originated within the current boundaries of the country and is reportedly grown nowhere else. This is truly an indigenous wine and one of the most interest to me. 

Eager as I am to further explore the city of Skopje, I decide I first better visit one of Macedonia’s famous wine districts and continue my research on indigenous wines. My attention focuses on the Tikves Wine District south of Skopje and more particularly the town of Demir Kapiya at the southern end of the district, not far from the  Macedonia-Greek border. The Popova Kula Winery in  Demir Kapiya produces a number of wines indigenous to the Balkans and at least one indigenous to Macedonia and also has an on-site hotel and restaurant. I had been here before in the summertime but was eager to visit again in late fall when I hoped it would be less crowded and I could concentrate more fully on my researches. I book a room for five nights, thinking to this will be enough time to complete my studies and effect a wine cure. 

The bus for Demir Kapisa leaves the Skopje bus station at 11:00 a.m. The four-lane turnpike south travels along the Vardar River, first passing through a scenic Veles canyon before emerging out into the rolling hills of the Tikves Wine District, which covers about 2000 square miles and is on roughly the same latitude as the Bordeaux region in France, the Tuscany region in Italy, and the Napa Valley region in California; in short ideal wine country. About forty-seven square miles of the area is actually covered with vineyards, which are maintained by thirty-seven different wineries.

Vardar River and the Veles Canyon south of Skopje (click on photo for enlargement. Photo by Корисник:Македонец.
Tikves Wine District shaded in red
Vineyard-covered rolling hills of the Tikves Wine Region in summertime
After stops at bus stations in the small cities in Veles and one other town whose name escapes me at the moment we finally arrive at the outskirts of Demir Kapiya, a sleepy little town of 3,725 inhabitants, where I am unceremoniously dumped off at a parking lot. I hike into town and track down a taxi to take me to the winery, about a mile and half away. 
Demir Kapiya. Photo by Rašo.
We don’t need your passport,” the receptionist at the winery inn tells me. “We still have your ID information from your last stay.” When I was here the last time, in the month of August, the place was packed—I wanted to stay a day or two longer but was unable to extend my reservation—but now I am the only guest. My spacious room has hardwood floors, a sitting area with a table and chairs, a balcony with a great view of the vineyards in the foreground and the mountains to the south, and, most importantly, a large desk with adequate lights. I settle in and begin my researches. 
Popova Kula Winery Inn and Restaurant
View from my balcony in summertime
Vineyards in summertime
Grapes in summertime

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.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Iran | Yazd

Wandered by Yazd, a city of about one million people located near the middle of Iran. It is known as one of the hottest cities in the country. As with many cities in the desert water is held in high regard. 
 Main square of Yazd (click on photos for enlargements)
 Main square of Yazd
 Main square of Yazd
Kids playing in the main square of Yazd. The city’s famous wind-catchers, which catch cool breezes and funnel them down into the buildings below, can be seen in the background. The wind-catchers were an early form of air-conditioning. 
 Skyline of Yazd with more wind-catchers
Wind-Catchers
Streets of Yazd
 Mosque in Yazd
 Detail of mosque in Yazd
  Detail of mosque in Yazd
 Hotel where I stayed in Yazd
 Courtyard of hotel where I stayed in Yazd
  Courtyard of hotel where I stayed in Yazd
Courtyard of hotel where I stayed in Yazd. The perfect place for sipping a saffron tisane as the air cools off at twilight. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Mongolia | Autobiography of Taranatha

Another book we recently published: the Autobiography of Taranatha. As you probably know, Taranatha was the 16th incarnation of Javzandamba and the previous incarnation of Zanabazar, The First Bogd Gegeen Of Mongolia.
Cover of book: See Enlargement
The text, originally in Tibetan, was translated into Mongolian by G. Nyam-Ochir. I was asked to write the Foreword in English:

Foreword
In 1995, on the very first day I was ever in Mongolia, I wandered quite by chance into the Zanabazar Fine Arts Museum a couple of blocks west of Sükhbaatar Square. I was vaguely aware that Zanabazar was an important religious figure in Mongolia and also that he was a famous artist, but at the time I knew very little about his life or artistic works. In the museum I soon found myself standing in front of Zanabazar’s statue of White Tara. I have to say I was stunned. It had to be one of the most impressive works of Buddhist art—or for that matter, any art—that I had ever seen. Nearby were statues of four of the five Meditation Buddhas—Amoghasidda, Amitabha, Akshobya, and Vairocana (I soon located the fifth, Ratnasambhava, in the Choijin Lama Museum)—a statue of Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, a large bronze stupa, and other works attributed to either Zanabazar or his school. By the time I left the museum I was determined to find out more about this man who was not only a preternaturally talented artist but also the first of the eight Bogd Gegeens, themselves incarnations of Javzandamba, who from from 1639 to 1924 served much the same role in Mongolia as the Dalai Lamas did in Tibet. The next summer I returned to Mongolia and traveled to Erdene Zuu, the monastery (now museum), founded in 1585 by Zanabazar’s great-grandfather, the Tüsheet Khan Avtai, who had reintroduced Buddhism into Mongolia after it had largely died out after the fall of the Yüan Dynasty. I also visited Zanabazar’s birthplace at Yesön Zuil, in what is now Övörkhangai Aimag; Shireet Tsagann Nuur, where in 1639 Zanabazar, at the age of four, was enthroned as the first Bogd Gegeen of Mongolia; Shankh Monastery, founded by Zanabazar in 1647 not far from Erdene Zuu; Zanabazar’s workshop of Tövkhon, in the mountains not far from Shankh, where Zanabazar created many of his most famous works; and Amarbayasgalant Monastery, where Zanabazar’s remains where kept after he died in 1723. All of these places I described in my book Travels in Northern Mongolia, first published in 1997.

In the following years I visited many more places connected with the life of Zanabazar, including Khögno Taryn Khiid in Bulgan Aimag; Zayain Khüree in Arkhangai Aimag; Saridgiin Khiid, a monastery founded by Zanbazar in a remote part of the Khentii Mountains; various hot springs he had frequented, including Yestiin Rashaan in Töv Aimag and Onon Rashaan in Khentii Aimag; Günjiin Süm, the temple dedicated to the Manchu wife of Dondovdorj, the father of Zanabazar’s successor, the second Bogd Gegeen Luvsandandbidonme; and others.  Descriptions of these places were eventually included into my book Illustrated Guidebook to Locales Connected with the Life of Zanabazar, the First Bogd Gegeen of Mongolia.

But the story of Zanabazar is not limited to just Mongolia. From my researches into the life of Zanabazar I was well aware that he was considered the seventeenth incarnation of Javzandamba, an illustrious line of incarnations which began before the time of the Buddha, appearing first in India and later Tibet. The twelfth incarnation, Jamyan Dorj, was a disciple of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug sect, and founded Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, among many other monasteries and hermitages throughout Tibet. The next incarnations of Javzandamba appeared in Ceylon, Tibet, and then India. Taranatha, the sixteenth incarnation and Zanabazar’s immediate predecessor, was born in Tibet in 1575. In 1615 he founded Damcho Takten Ling Monastery (also known as Dagdandamchoilin, or in Mongolian, Batmönkh Khiid). Zanabazar traveled twice to Tibet,  in 1649–50 and 1655–56, and on the first of t=hese trips he reportedly visited Damcho Takten Ling. Since these trips were quite important events in the life of Zanabazar I decided that I too should visit Tibet and Damcho Takten Ling.

Although not terribly remote by Tibetan standards—it is in the valley of the Tsangpo River, the main artery running west-east through Tibet—the monastery is off the beaten tourist path, and I far as I could determine there was no public transportation available. I was also warned that there were no hotels or guesthouses in the area. I hired an all-terrain vehicle in Lhasa, and after spending the night in Shigatse we continued on to the monastery. The monks were surprised to see us—it was winter and they received few visitors at this time of the year—but they quickly served us milk tea and offered us a room they maintained for guests. After stashing our gear, we headed first for the Jonang Monastery, located several miles up a side valley from Takten Damcho Ling.

Taranatha was a member of the Jonang Sect, founded by Dölpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. Dölpopa (the “Man from Dölpo”) was born in 1292 in the Dölpo region of what is now Nepal. As a boy Dölpopa followed the teachings of the Nyingma sect. Later he moved to Sakya Monastery in Tibet where he studied under teachers of the Sakya sect. At the age of twenty-eight he became the head of Sakya Monastery and was recognized as one the leading teachers in the Sakya tradition. In 1321 he traveled to the monastery at Jonang for the first time. The caves in the cliffs above the Jonang area had been used for meditation retreats since at least the time of Padmasambhava in the eighth century. In the early 1290s the famous Kalachakra teacher Kunpang Thukje Tsondru (1243–1313) moved to Jonang and a monastery was established at the foot of the cliffs. In 1322 Dölpopa became a student of Yönton Gyatso, then the head of Jonang Monastery. In 1326 he himself was officially installed as the head of the monastery, taking the place of his teacher.

A year later Yönton Gyatso transmigrated. In his honor Dölpopa decided to built an enormous stupa. The first attempt in 1329  failed when the entire structure collapsed during construction. Undaunted, he began construction of an even bigger stupa on a different site nearby. As word of the project spread artisans and laborers from all parts of Tibet flocked to the site and soon donations of gold, silver, copper, tea, silk, and much else poured in from all over the Tibetan Buddhist world. The design of the stupa was based on descriptions of the Glorious Stupa of the Planets given in the Stainless Light Commentary, an exposition which according to tradition had been written by Pundarika, the Second Kalki King of Shambhala. Dölpopa apparently believed that he himself was a reincarnation of Pundarika and claimed to have visited Shambhala by visionary means. Reportedly statues of the twenty-five Kalki Kings of Shambhala were installed in the fourth floor of the stupa. They were no longer present when I visited the stupa.

It was during the construction of the Great Stupa of Jonang that Dölpopa began teaching for the first time the shengtong doctrine of “other-emptiness”. He alludes to this in a poem:
My intelligence has not been refined in three-fold wisdom but I think the raising of Mount Meru caused the Ocean to gush forth.
Mount Meru here refers to the Great Stupa and the Ocean to the shen-tong doctrine. The shen-tong doctrine which Dölpopa taught differs from the rang-tang doctrine of “self-emptiness expounded by Nagarjuna, Chandrakirti, and other Indian teachers.” Shen-tong asserts that “emptiness, in dispelling the illusive relative truths of the world, reveals an ineffable transcendental reality with positive attributes.” The rang-tang view “claimed that emptiness is merely the elimination of falsely imagined projections upon the relative truths of the world and does not imply anything else.”  This shen-tong view, as outlined in Dölpopa’s most famous work, Mountain Dharma, An Ocean of Definitive Meaning, became the cornerstone of the Jonang Sect to which Taranatha belonged. Indeed, according to Dölpopa‘s recent biographer, “In the history of the Jonang tradition Taranatha is second in importance only to Dölpopa himself. He was responsible for the short-lived Jonang renaissance in Tsang and Central Asia during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and the widespread revitalization of the shen-tong theory in particular.”

From the Great Stupa of Jonang we walked down the valley to Damcho Takten Ling, the monastery founded by Taranatha in 1615. According to Mongolian accounts, at some point after the founding of Damcho Takten Ling Taranatha travelled to Mongolia, where he died in 1634. Before his death his Jonang disciples reportedly begged him to reincarnate in Tibet and continue to spread the Jonang doctrines. He replied:
Be satisfied with just this much expansion of our Jonangpa doctrine. Through the force of supplications by the Ganden protectors, and the force of previous prayers, I will now spread the the doctrine of Lord Tsongkhapa in a barbarian borderland.
Thus he announced that the next incarnation of Javzandamba would be reborn in Mongolia and would become not a Jonangpa but a follower of the Gelug sect founded by Tsongkhapa. Zanabazar, the seventeenth incarnation of Javzandamba and Taranatha’s successor was born in 1635 at Yesön Züil in what is now Övörkhangai Aimag. Initially, however, he was initiated into the Sakya sect in 1639 at Shireet Tsagaan Nuur.

Zanabazar made his First Trip To Tibet in 1649, when he was fourteen years old. According to both Mongolian and Tibetan accounts it was during his stay in Lhasa that the 5th Dalai Lama declared that he was the seventeenth Javzandamba, the incarnation of Taranatha. Most accounts maintain that he was also converted to the Gelug sect at this time. Thus he was fulfilling the prophesy made by Taranatha. While in Tibet he also made pilgrimages to places connected with his previous incarnations. According to some accounts he visited Takten Damcho Ling Monastery at this time. He almost certainly would have also visited nearby Jonang Monastery and the Great Stupa of Jonang. By that time the Jonang sect had been suppressed by the dominant Gelug sect headed by the Dalai Lama. One intriguing account suggests that it was the young Zanabazar himself who asked that Damcho Takten Ling be converted to a Gelug Monastery. In any case, the monastery became a Gelug institution in the eighth month of 1650.  The Dalai Lama was not convinced, however, that the monks in residence had actually changed their views, and in 1658 most were expelled and sent to other monasteries. The monastery was then renamed Ganden Puntsok Ling, and from this time on “the Jonang tradition ceased to exist as an independent entity in Tsang and Central Tibet.”

The written works of Taranatha, the last great spokesman of the Jonang tradition in Tibet, have survived, however. He was a staggeringly prolific writer whose collected works amounted to sixteen hefty volumes. Perhaps his most famous work was the History of Buddhism in India, completed in 1608. An “amazing intellectual performance.” according to its editor, Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, the History is still in print in English translation today. He also wrote a volume of commentary on the Kalachakra Tantra and translated from Sanskrit a guidebook to the Kingdom of Shambhala entitled Kalapar Jugpa (“The Entrance to Kalapa”, Kalapa being the capital of Shambhala). This translation was later used as the basis of the most famous guidebook to Shambhala, Description of the Way to Shambhala, written by the Third Panchen Lama, Palden Yeshe, in 1775.

Another of Taranatha’s abiding interests was the Cult of Tara, on which he expounds in Origins of the Tantra of the Bodhisattva Tara, or as it is also called, The Golden Rosary. Tara was of course also one of Zanabazar’s major preoccupations and the subject of many of his most famous artworks.

Up until now Taranatha’s Autobiography has been one of his lesser known works. I first learned about the autobiography in 1980 from reading Edwin Bernbaum’s book The Way to Shambhala, in which a few sentences were paraphrased. My interest was piqued, however, and over the years I made numerous inquiries, but as far I could determine the autobiography had never been translated into English (to my knowledge, it has still not been published in English). In the fall of 2011 G. Nyamochir contacted me and asked if I would be interesting in publishing a Mongolian translation of the autobiography. Thus this current volume came to be. It is another step on the journey which began when I first stood in front of Zanabazar’s White Tara in 1995.

Statue of Taranatha at Erdene Zuu (Click on photo for Enlargement)

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Mongolia | Uncle Scrooge | Genghis Khan

 This is the very first book I ever read about Chingis Khan (Genghis Khan). I was eight years old at the time. 

 If you want to learn how Genghis Khan’s crown got into the Hindu Kush you have to read the book. (Click on photos for enlargements)