Religious Objects

Many Kalmyk families have domestic altars laid with religious objects. Given that Buddhism was forbidden in the Soviet period and many people had to hide their religious possessions, objects passed down the generations bear special sentimental value and significance for their owners. Many family relics were also irreversibly lost or destroyed during the anti-religious campaigns of the 1930s and the subsequent deportation of the Kalmyk nation in 1943 to Siberia and Central Asia. This collection hosts videos about various religious objects, both new and old, including thangkas (Buddhist paintings on cotton or silk), statues, talismans (bu), amulets, as well as instruments used by the clergy such as bells, vajras, and others.

Agvan Eshey, My Family Rosary and ‘Wind Horse’ Flags

Lama Agvan Eshey says that he inherited his rosary, or prayer beads, from his grandfather’s brother who was a lama of the Merkit clan in Rostovskaya oblast. In the past, many Kalmyk lamas in the Don were from this clan, including lama Menke Bormandzhinov and lama Sharap Tepkin. Agvan Eshey also says ‘wind horse’ flags (ki morn) symbolize a harmony with the wind, and bring luck and success. Based on their year of birth, people choose ‘wind horse’ flags of different colors and put them up in certain directions (west, east, south-west, etc.).


Larisa Shoglyaeva, My Altar and Dreams


Sanan Matvenov, How to Organize a Home Altar


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About Altars


Telo Tulku Rinpoche, About Amulets and Holy Objects


Yuriy Sangadzhiev, About Altars