Uncovering the past, building the future
Help us publish a treasure trove of data on historic Buddhist temple sites and share the stories of Mongolia’s elders, preserving a rich cultural past and encouraging young Mongolian citizens to embrace their heritage.
In the late 1930’s Mongolia’s Buddhist heritage was torn away when the Soviet-style Communists devastated the country’s sacred landscapes by destroying all the monasteries – and exiling or killing the monks or ordering them to be nomads, factory workers or soldiers.
Today, Mongolians are actively seeking to retrieve the past, and striving to make contact with their historic cultural identity. The history of Mongolia has been captured through stories of the elderly and archeological mapping of former Buddhist monastery sites, key to rediscovering Mongolia’s unique cultural heritage.
STEP 1: We visited over 1300 sites of old and revived temples
The Arts Council of Mongolia sent survey teams to every part of the country to seek out the elders and survey the sites over a 1,000 Buddhist temples. These elders, many of them young monks at the time of the destruction, told us their stories about daily life in the temples and monasteries. We also took GPS readings and photographs to preserve the elder’s identification of the Monastery sites.
STEP 2: We now need to publish what we found
The hard part is done. Now, these stories, locations and photographs need to be published initially online so that Mongolians – and people across the globe – can gain access to Mongolia’s rich Buddhist past.
We are so close! We need only $8,000 to complete the online publishing and make Mongolia’s Buddhist history accessible to Mongolians and the rest of the world. We can do that with your help. Please help us preserve the past and build the future of Mongolia’s history, and worldwide cultural understanding.
The money from this drive will allow us to pay for the programming needed to get this trove of information in a easy-to-use website. (The address will be http://www.mongoliantemples.net.)
For each of the over 1,300 sites surveyed, the web site will aim to have a dedicated page in Mongolian and English with full details collected by the surveyors: GPS coordinates, narrative description of the location, date structure was founded, number of monks in residence, date of closure / destruction, any available archive photos, photos of the site at time of the survey, transcripts of Oral Histories collected from old people who knew the site, any available site plan, and a Precis of the history of the site (taken from interviews, other local sources and extracts from the Mongolian National Archive).
The website will also contain two scholarly reports on temples in Ikh Khuree (today’s Ulaanbaatar) written by Krisztina Teleki and Zsuzsa Majer. One report covers old temples. The other covers post 1990 active temples. The web site will also include an 800 word Glossary in Mongolian/Tibetan into English compiled by these two scholars.
Subject to raising needed funds, the site should launch before the end of 2013.
ACM-US maintains complete discretion over allocation of gifts. Although ACM-US cannot legally guarantee gifts will be used for the purpose specified, in all past cases we’ve been able to honor donor’s wishes. Subject to ACM-US board approval, any excess funds from this campaign will be used for further publication efforts for this project.