Visited some museums (National History of Mongolia, Zanabazar Fine Arts, Choijin Lama Temple), Aglag Buteel Monastery, Gandan Khiid, went one weekend to Danshig Naadam. I'm taking Mongolian language lessons a few days a week, now studying grammar and verb tenses. Meeting Buddhist monks, traditional shamans, UB city-dwellers, foreign travelers, and learning from the places + people I meet. Sometimes I feel like every interaction is valuable and meaningful in some way, not to be taken for granted. Other times, everything is a mystifying infinite vortex and i know nothing.
Drawing in the sketchbooks, thinking about performances, managing/ editing websites and other media. Interesting to hear people's thoughts on how important/ worthless art can be. I want to see Tsam dancing soon (is it intended more for the gods, or for people?). And hear shamans perform their music live.
A couple days ago I saw a kid standing outside, whistling to a pet falcon on his arm. The falcon was wearing a tiny cloth-and-metal helmet/hood on its head. An older man told me they were falcon-trainers, and this falcon has an injured wing, so they're going to nurse it for a while until it gets better. I asked the man where they get the falcon-training headpieces. He said that you cant buy them anywhere, you have to handcraft each one individually. Very sweet. I remember a Yunnanese falconer telling me they just sew a falcons eyes shut with thread while training... and unsew them once they're ready.
"Art is a uniquely efficient way of understanding each other." ~ C. Cook
"Artists usually have a hard life... Good luck!" ~my roommate, this week
"And what are you supposed to be drawing...? ... God...?" ~Mongolia Immigration Office clerk
Questions, Pt. 2 (collected from conversations with people):
- Are there shamanic Buddhists? Buddhist shamans? What is the difference?
- SInce Dongba grew out of Tibetan Bon... Is Dongba a form of Buddhism, or no?
- Where do you (or anyone else) draw the line between Shamanism and Pagan religions, in general?
- Why were Buddhists/ Shamans persecuted and/ or executed by the Communists?
- How does geography affect what we believe in?
- How is internet and phone technology affecting contemporary shamanic cultures everywhere?
- Why are you here, and why are you doing this? What is the point? What are you "trying to say"...?