Issue #2 • 1900

From June, 20 to July 3, 2005, VII Annual Festival of Arts was held in Mongolia. Member of Artists Union AA Uz Nazira Kuzieva was among guests from Uzbekistan. She offers her impressions about the trip to our readers.

The founders of the Mongols, Nukuz and Kiyan with wives hid from enemies in inaccessible canyon of Ergunekun. The belief in spirits of fathers and worshipping felt idols (ongons) helped this tribe to survive in extreme climatic conditions. Having become numerous, the tribe fused the mountain range containing ore and left from the canyon. This is description by Iranian historian Rashid ad-Din living at court of the Hulaguns in the 14th century.

Some other sources also inform on origin of the Mongols. “Occult legend” mentions their totemic ancestors – Borte Chinno (gray wolf) and Ho Maral (fallow deer).

The ancient Mongols worshipped the sky – Tengri, “dark blue” or “eternal”, and earth. By the way, that can explain frequent dark blue color in Mongol national costume and dark blue strip in the middle of national flag of Mongolia. The sky was always esteemed by the Mongols as Supreme deity. It is eternal and the creator of all. The sky determines destiny of a person and authorizes the state power. The sky and earth are carriers of Yan (sky – father) and Yin (earth – mother). The Mongols also worshipped the moon and sun – great lord. The sun was the mother of the moon. Pictures of the sun and moon were wedding symbols…

Ethnogenesis of the Mongols had famished by the beginning of the 13th century. Separate Mongolian tribes of nomadic shepherds were consolidated by Temuchjin, the son of Mongolian strong man Esuggei-Blatur. He came to power by means of intricate diplomacy and was proclaimed the Mongolian khan with the title of Chinggis that means Universal.

Memory of the great conqueror and deification of his royal family found embodiment in the cult of Chinggis-khan. Aerobus A-310 landed in the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator. The most of passengers were tourists. No vacant seats as recently travelers have preferred this region (by the way, profitable business in national economy). Among tourists there were participants of annual festival of arts – “Roaring Hooves”. Director of New Music Association Badamhorol Samdandamb and professor of Fraiburgh University of Music Bernhard Woolf joined the efforts to found annual international festival of folklore and contemporary music which was first held in 1999. I was lucky to visit VII Festival, and moreover to participate in it. My task was to decorate the festival and to acquaint spectators and participants, the nomads ever living in Gobi, with works of Uzbekistan artists.

Participants of the charitable festival were famous artists from Europe, Asia and America coming annually to acquaint the local population with classical and popular music. Usually benefit concerts are held in the desert of Gobi, in vicinities of the Huvsugul lake and Ulan Bator. The stage and hall always are the same: it is a huge sand-drift in Gobi or open big ground in other places of amazing beauty. Spectators take seats on the ground or sand …

Well, the next concert is starting. Grateful spectators are captivated by improvisations of Silvia Baol, the dancer from Switzerland. Though Silvia dances to modern and classical music and though her dance tells how today’s European dancer feels music, the concert program touches upon more general issues of musical culture. European spectators can get acquainted with national Mongolian traditional music, and the Mongols can know better masterpieces of European classics and popular music.

By the way, I first heard famous guttural singing of the Mongols and understood how it makes possible to express sounds of the wind, harmony of the universe and to transfer feeling of boundless spaces and cosmic landscapes of Gobi …

Great silence and surprising quietness, meditating and understanding that the present world is also perfect, gave impulse to my composition – “Initiation”. As a matter of fact, it was installation about love for music, about fire burning in souls of creative persons, about love for the world around and the eternity. The symbolical musical instruments from clay with foiled side should have sparkled in the afternoon under the sun, at night under headlights of cars and under lamps of illumination.
By the way, did you hear sounds of camel’s thorn trembling in the wind? My “musical instruments” suspended on springs among them gave absolutely specific sound: the wind of desert, flowing round different subjects, became a participant of the action and sang the songs by ancient voice of steppe eternity … So, almost cosmic sounding was being born. My “musical instruments” waving in the wind touched the branches and each other creating absolutely original music.

Later I added this symbol with small lamps symbolizing fire of creativity located at a distance from each other. Though the same composition could symbolize a road or way and fire entrance to the space of beauty and harmony, or even the infinite time necessary for everybody to see true art – the nature in harmony with subjects created by human hands and to get revelation leading to comprehension of truth and sense of life.

Another my installation on the lakeside of Huvsugul was made from natural materials – white and red stones. It proceeded from the Mongolian traditional song of very beautiful sounding and melodious rhythm. It inspired me to create a visual image of this song, similar to the steppe epos.

Installation symbolized traditional, very long song about beauty of lake, happiness and love for the native land. Having chosen the ground inclining towards the lake, free from trees and covered by odorous grass and flowers, I began to build the composition from the small symbolical stream which was getting wider at the middle and having become the wide river inflowed into the lake what reflected vocal diapason of the Mongolian singer, also inflowing into universal music.

The composition was made from white stones with rare insertion of red pebble symbolizing happiness and well-being in traditional Mongolian ornaments. They looked brightly and festively against the background of white running streamer. I saw such patterns on national clothes of the Mongols, on utility subjects and yurts where we lived.

The band of white stones on the background of green grass organically entered and decorated the natural downhill. The song about beauty of lake and love, which was performed by the mother of the director of festival Badamhorol Samdandamb at the opening of the installation, enriched the installation. The artist Gunter Wolf from France had own vision of the festival idea.

He seated the musicians on the grass before spectators, set canvas-stretcher with transparent coarse calico, stood behind it and when the musician started he began to reproduce in paints what he was hearing. Thus, we did not see the artist but saw appearance of wonderful colored pictures on the canvas … Transformation of invisible sounds into visible sounding space. The young artist Arientuugs represented Mongolia at the festival. He set the installations in the desert and on lakeside.

First, Arientuugs set cardboard boxes chequerwise on the small ground far from yurts with spectators. Beforehand, he pasted yellow and dark-blue pieces of paper on them. The wind played in these bands and gave impression of talk inviting us to join. Grey pebble encircled the composition. The low portable ladder was put beside. Each of us could climb it and to see the composition at a new angle, in effect, obtaining a new sight at life.

Farther, on the slope of sand-drift, he put cellophane bags filled with water. The sunlight, getting inside, was refracted and created especially joyful impression. This installation had no name, but its idea was absolutely clear to everybody – water in desert gives life amking real but very fluid and precious obstacle to drought and death …

Arientuugs reminded about that on the lakeside where he drew aquarelles of Huvsugul and then in yurt where he arranged a small exhibition and did not forget to set the same cellophane bags with water in the center at different levels.

… New angle of aspect, new and eternal angle of world vision. Our journey to the south of Mongolia, and then to the north was over. We came back to Ulan Bator to hold final concerts, look at city and to visit monasteries.

Official religion in Mongolia is Buddhism brought by Tibetan missionaries. The major role in achievement of “rescue” is given to monachism, therefore there are many monks in the country: usually one of sons from a family is sent to a monastery. Monasteries “concentrated” sedentary way of life and became centers of national culture.

Unfortunately, by the 1920s, the most part of monasteries had been destroyed, lands were annexed and riches were plundered. At the end of the 20th century monasteries of Mongolia started to be revived and restored. Today their number exceeds two hundred.
The biggest one is in Ulan Bator. In the center of its main temple there is a forty-meter statue of Buddha. Impression is grandiose; you feel yourself not so comfortable beside such height. Nevertheless, here you survive again and again coming creative impulse growing inside and giving projects of your future works and new relation to life…

We are leaving from tourist complex of Chinggiziin-Huree near Ulan Bator where we have lived for two weeks – just fourteen days have changed my notion of this exotic country. Kind people, highly professional actors, alive music, unforgettable melody of the wind, silence of the lake, pure air – all that is Mongolia which henceforth will call me again and again …

Nazira Kuzieva

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