The National Museum of Kalmykia was founded in 1921, but opened its doors to the public in 1931. Destroyed during World War II, it was restored 1960. Today the Museum houses more than 70,000 artifacts, many of them rare, related to Kalmyk culture, lifestyle and history. It has several branches in places such as Lagan, Gorodovikovsk, Yashkul, Yashalta, and Ketchenery. A museum dedicated to the famous Kalmyk Jangar singer Eelyan Ovla was opened in his native village of Iki-Bukhus in 1972. Besides state-sponsored museums, many secondary schools also have small museums or ‘corners of Kalmyk culture’. Recently, people started to open private museums. Two of them are the Museum of Nomadic Culture by Yuriy Sangadzhiev and the Museum of Oirat Culture founded by Basan Zakharov, both of whom are in Elista.

Ais Sandzhiev, Tsagan-Nur Secondary School Museum

Ais is the director of a museum in a secondary school in Tsagan-Nur village. Established in 1963, the museum added the Room of Military Pride in 1975, and in 1983 moved to current building. The museum consists of 10 sections or corners, as follows: 1) a corner dedicated to the kolkhoz of the 3rd Commintern, 2) a corner dedicated to the kolkhoz Priozernyi, 3) a corner dedicated to the hero of the Soviet Union, Nikolai Sandzhiev, 4) a corner dedicated to the villagers who fought in World War II, 5) a corner dedicated to the 115th cavalry division that defended the village during World War II, 6) a corner dedicated to Sandzhi Kalyaev, 7) a corner dedicated to the Kalmyk writer Mikhail Khoninov, 8) a corner showing the history of the secondary school, 9) an ethnographic corner, and 10) an archaeological corner.

Ais talks about the artefacts displayed in the ethnographic corner, which have been donated by villagers. These items include knitting needles, a leather bag in which to keep tea, a wedding bag in which to keep sweets, a knife, a tobacco pipe, a leather container for liquids, a pair of summer shoes, various whips, nyarn shinj (traditional game), a horse hobble, a woollen cable for catching horses, a knitted men’s hat, a women’s leather hat, a hair ornament used by married women, Buddhist bells, metal ornaments for a saddle, and a traditional men’s dress.


Svetlana Batyreva, Museum of Traditional Culture