Svetlana Batyreva, museum of traditional culture
Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge
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Terbish, B. (2018). Svetlana Batyreva, museum of traditional culture [Video file]. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.44569
Svetlana shows and explains the artifacts kept in the Museum of the Kalmyk Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Science in Elista:This museum has been working for 18 years, displaying artifacts collected during expeditions or obtained from individuals. The Kalmyks have an interesting culture and unique history related to that of Western Mongolia, an ancestral land of the Kalmyks. Having Oirat origins, Kalmyk culture was formed in a new natural and cultural environment. It is important to show any culture in its entirety, including objects made from leather, felt, wood, metal, and fabric. This exhibition shows the material culture of the Kalmyks. In the center is a yurt. To be more precise, this is not an actual yurt covered with felt, but a kind of model that was assembled according to available scientific data. Our exhibition went abroad, to Nepal and Turkey. This yurt stands in the center of the hall so that people could see it from all sides. This living space carries in itself temporal parameters, and on the poles that hold the roof there are the representations of animals that are used to determine chronology and time. The yurt has to be located so that its entrance faces south. The sacred part of the yurt is its northern part. The right part of the yurt is men’s. Here men's clothing is kept, accessories, a saddle, ropes, a lasso, whips and the like. The yurt is also covered with felt which creates the necessary micro-climate inside. The dwelling itself is mobile. Its frame is made of wood. The dome, or roof, is held by more than 70 wooden poles (unin) that are placed on the foldable wall (term) consisting of 6 parts. It is possible to increase the size of the yurt by expanding the walls. In this case the height of the yurt lowers accordingly. Animal husbandry requires that herders change their pasture on a regular basis. Russia provided a territory for normalizing, and the Kalmyks pledged to protect the southern borders of the country. Kalmyks participated in all Russia’s military campaigns. Many scholars have written about this, including Grigoriy Prozritelev. Today Kalmykia is a calm and peaceful place, where we are always happy to show our traditional heritage. The left side of the yurt is reserved for women. A lot is written about the Kalmyk woman. This part of the yurt contains utensils, a table, food, and a cradle. In the center of the yurt is the hearth. The aim of this museum is to show the traditional life of the Kalmyks. Each item here is useful: a felt for sitting, a whip to chase a horse away and so on. What is noteworthy about these objects is that they are decorated. People decorated objects in accordance with their aesthetic views, which are formed over a long period of time. Nomads lived in harmony with nature. According to nomadic world view, human beings are a part of nature. This view can be found in the Buddhist iconography of the Kalmyks. The standing Tsagan Aav, for example, is an anthropomorphic image of nature. Nature is embodied in this figure, who has his head reaching the sky, and his feet resting on the ground. Leather products that are on display are various bortkha. They are light and durable vessels for holding liquid. Wood was used to make plates, tables, and containers of various sizes. Kalmyk clothes are represented here by female costumes called biize and berze. Ornaments are not only used to decorate one’s life but to express worldviews and aesthetic values of the people.
Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.44569