Zanabazar Museum Of Fine Arts
The Fine Arts G. Zanabazar Museum was founded in 1966. The museum is renowned for the works of G. Zanabazar (1635-1724), which include the statues of Sita Tara, the Five Dhyani Buddhas and the Bodhi Stupa. The Fine Arts Museum was named after Gombodorjiin Zanabazar in 1995. It has 12 exhibition galleries covering the arts from ancient civilizations up to the beginning of the 20th Century. Initially opened with over 300 exhibits, the Museum rapidly enriched the number of its objects, with the modern arts becoming a separate division in 1989 as an Arts Gallery.
The Museum displays the artistic works of Mongolian masters of the 18-20th Centuries, coral masks, tankas, as well as the famous paintings of B. Sharav entitled “A Day in Mongolia” and “Airag feast”. The Museum contains 13000 objects. The exhibition hall regularly hosts the works of contemporary artists. The G. Zanabazar Museum has been successfully cooperating with UNESCO for the improvement of the preservation of priceless exhibits and for the training of the Museum staff. The tour of the museum begins from the 2nd floor, guiding through the following topics.
The earliest form of ancient Mongolian works of art are simplified, stylized animal figures and symbols, painted by prehistoric nomads on the walls of the caves they inhabited. Such figures were typically painted using reddish-brown ochre, or engraved on the rock face using sharpened tools. As human civilization developed, so too did their artistic skill, which gradually became increasingly more detailed and intricate. The use of metal became widespread during the Bronze Age (2000BC) with the discovery that smelting copper and tin produces the resilient alloy bronze. Bronze decorative objects featuring animal figures became widespread throughout the region during this period. Amongst the artwork produced in Central Asia during the Bronze Age, the “deer stone” monuments are of particular significance and cultural value. These monuments came to be used by different Mongolian empires that created unique designs on the monuments as a means of establishing their individual territories.
Tanka, or Tanka, is a Tibetan term identifying Buddhist mineral pigment painting. As portraits of religious figures and deities, Tankas are characterized by geometrically precise measurements that incorporate powerful symbolism from religious parables with artistic amplification. This type of artwork started to spread throughout Mongolia in the mid-17th Century, reaching its peak in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Mongolian artists often traveled to Tibet and India to study religious fine arts, but upon their return to Mongolia created highly-skilled works of art following the strict religious canons, whilst absorbing the unique features of the traditional Mongol painting style. Tankas often depict deities in either wrathful or peaceful forms, producing a splendid effect through the mastery of harmonizing lines and color.
Gold line paintings on a red background are called Martang; those on a black background are called Nagtang. Tanka paintings range in size from miniatures (2-3m²) to large-scale designs for temples and monasteries, which can be found in vertical, horizontal, and round forms. Most of the paintings are done on a specially prepared stiffened cotton canvas, using extremely fine animal-hair brushes and natural paints. The paintings on display in this hall, such as the Begdse Dharmapala, Shri Devi, Yamantaka, Maitreya and Green Tara, illustrate the use of the Tanka in depicting patterns and animals, as well as expressions of religious philosophy, astrology and poetry.
Mongol appliqué, characterized by unique Mongolian styled designs and outstanding needlework, evolved from the early art of Xiongnu/Hunnu felt embroidery. Although this art form dates back to a 2,000-year-old Mongolian tradition, it has not significantly developed outside of Mongolia. The museum collections include classical works of embroidery from the 19th and 20th Centuries. These works are similar to Tanka paintings in their composition, color and content, but are unique in so far as their production requires extreme investments of time and effort, considerable patience and a meticulous stitching of silk by artistic seamstresses. The applique is unique in its splendor and color detail, its creation involving the contrasting of different colors of silk, embroidered with silk thread, and inlaying with the utmost precision to create an effect entirely different from that of drawings and paintings. The Mongol applique is produced based on an original drawing to form templates for the fabric. These are then fastened onto individually selected pieces of silk. Next, the silk shapes are quilted together and affixed to a silk background with a border. Finally, a string is affixed to the quilt for hanging and dowel is inserted at the bottom to provide a weight.