Religious Objects

Many Kalmyk families have domestic altars that are laid with religious objects, both new (that they purchased in shops or received from lamas, friends or relatives) and old (that they inherited from ancestors). Many of these old objects, which would have survived the Russian Civil War, the anti-religious campaigns of the 1930s, World War Two, the deportation of the Kalmyk people in 1943, and the subsequent years of atheist regime, have a special sentimental value for their owners. On this page you can see interviews with people, both lamas and laypersons, talking about various religious objects, including thangkas (Buddhist paintings on cotton or silk), statues, talismans and amulets (bu, mird), rosaries (erkn), 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.).


Anna Azvanova, About My Altar


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