May 19, 2017 2 min read
Mongolian Buddhism is heavily influenced by the Tibetan form that combines Vajrayana Buddhism with Tantric concepts. But Mongolian Buddhism had a unique identity too. Introduced during the period of the pre-Mongol from Nepal via Central Asia, many Buddhist terms are of Sanskrit origin. Then, at a later stage Tibetan Buddhist also had an impact.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Outer Mongolia had 583 monasteries and temple complexes and most Mongolian cities developed on the sites of monasteries. In the 1920s there were over 112,000 Mongolian Buddhist monks, representing more than 13% of Mongolia’s overall population. By the 1940s, nearly every monk was either dead or had apostatized. In the late 1940s, one monastery, Gandan Monastery, with a community of 100 monks, was open in Ulaanbaatar. It was the country’s sole monastery and was more for international display than functionality. After 1990 there has been a resurgence of Buddhism and about 200 temples now exist.
So the manuscripts based on commonly held Buddhist constructs have Tibetan scripts but have a unique style and character.
Here are two astrological manuscripts from Mongolia:
1) Chart and Manipulative Calculator Device
This manuscript set from the early 1900s contains a chart guide for making astrological calculations:
The set includes
a) a circular diagram drawn one half on each of two folios, which together make a circle
b) set of 3 manipulative devices in the form of 3 circular discs of decreasing sizes that are to be place on top of the circle and fixed at the centre. These discs are free to rotate. The uppermost disc has a bow and arrow drawn upon it. This acts as a pointer in the calculations.
2) Complete Astrological Thesis (Early 1900s)
More than 80 of the 140+ folios pages contain detailed charts and more than 6 have star-shaped diagrams. The depth and complexity are remarkable, making this a work of not just
Both these manuscripts from the wovensouls collection offer valuable insights into the mathematical models of the astrology system followed pre-1920 in Mongolia!
If only we could all read all the languages of the past and the present!
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