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When sacred turns out commodified. The property inventories of the 19th century Buddhist monasteries in Buryatia

Quand le sacré devient commodifié. Les inventaires des biens des monastères bouddhiques du xixe siècle en Bouriatie.
Ekaterina Sobkovyak

Résumés

Les inventaires des monastères bouddhiques de Bouriatie constituent un type particulier de document historique qui est né du croisement des traditions bureaucratiques russes et des traditions monastiques bouddhiques. Bien que de nombreux documents de ce type aient survécu jusqu’à l’époque moderne, leur étude systématique n’a jamais été tentée. Le présent article donne un aperçu des événements historiques qui ont conduit à l’apparition de ce type de document dans le système bureaucratique impérial russe. Bénéficiant théoriquement de plusieurs approches développées dans le cadre des études sur la culture matérielle, il présente l’analyse de la structure et du contenu de sept inventaires compilés à différentes époques pour différentes datsans de Bouriatie.

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Introduction, or how written sources can contribute to the studies on the materiality of religion

  • 1 I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my colleagues Jargal Badagarov, Isabelle Charleux, (...)
  • 2 Urga (also known under the names Örgöö, Daa Hürèè, Ih Hürèè [Mod. Mo.] and others) was the politica (...)

1The following research1 was triggered by an informative talk which my colleague Krisztina Teleki gave at the Fourth International Conference of Oriental Studies, held at Warsaw University (Poland) in 2014. In her presentation and the subsequent article (Teleki 2015), Teleki gave an overview and preliminary analysis of several Urga2 temples’ inventories that are currently preserved in the National Library and the National Archives of Mongolia.

2Although, as the investigation conducted by Teleki showed, the available monastery inventories describing the property of Mongolian Buddhist monasteries are quite numerous, these documents have never previously been paid serious attention and systematically studied. The value of Teleki’s article, in which she not only provides a short description of the studied documents but also presents a preliminary catalogue of the inventories found both in the National Library and the National Archives of Mongolia, is therefore difficult to overestimate.

  • 3 In the Buryat Buddhist tradition, the entire monastic complex is defined by the word dačang (Mo.; M (...)

3My report, in turn, is devoted to inventories listing the movable and immovable properties of the Buddhist monasteries of Buryatia3. I was fortunate to gain access to documents that are now kept in the State Archives of the Republic of Buryatia and the library of the Centre of Oriental Manuscripts and Xylographs of the Institute of Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Ulan-Ude, Russian Federation).

4The Buryat documents in question have not been thoroughly examined by either Russian, Buryat or Western scholars. Their few brief mentions and use as citations in the works of Russian researchers merely hint at the diversity of the documents’ form and content. Their historical value and cultural relevance have likewise remained beyond the scope of serious academic discussion. It is for this reason that I devote a large part of the present article to detailed and comprehensive descriptions of selected Buryat monasteries’ inventories. Providing these descriptions, I first aim to familiarise a broader circle of scholars with this kind of source and convey their availability and abundant presence in various repositories. Secondly, I perform a brief historical-philological analysis of the selected examples, as the historical context and content of these documents are so complex that they demand primary review and preliminary study. Finally, taking into consideration the specific nature of these documents, which regard exclusively tangible objects, be they household items or representations of spiritual entities, I attempt to approach them from the perspective of the materiality of religion.

5My intention to complement standard historical-philological analysis with an additional aspect of study and consider the monasteries’ inventories in the context of materiality of religion is not without reason. The “material turn” which occurred in religious studies a couple of decades ago proved to be effective and brought about numerous innovative investigations into the material aspects of religion. The shift of scientific interest away from the philosophical and spiritual components, which have long been considered dominant in discussion of religion as a cultural phenomenon, to the full diversity of religion’s tangible manifestations created an opportunity for scholars to investigate and establish the vital role of material objects in the development and practice of religion.

6Due to this close concentration on the study of physical objects, however, the research into the materiality of religion came to be considered the prerogative of the scholars working in the fields of archaeology, cultural anthropology, history of art, museology and other disciplines which have traditionally dealt with artefacts as well as natural and human-made sites and therefore possess a fully-fledged methodology for treating such objects of research. Scholars of religion, who are often represented by historians, philologists, sociologists or philosophers, were seen as those who “tend to be well-prepared in the investigation of languages, texts and the history of ideas, but less so in the study of objects, spaces, bodies and the practices of using them that make up religions in one way or another” (Morgan 2017, p. 14). This view is quite true and there is no reason to argue against the obvious. What I would like to demonstrate, nevertheless, is that the historical-philological analysis of written sources of a particular type can still contribute significantly to the research into the material religious culture. Such a goal appears achievable if we make use of the following definition of material culture proposed by Morgan:

Material culture, in other words, is more than an object. It is the way in which an object participates in making and sustaining a life-world. To study religious material culture is to study how people build and maintain the cultural domains that are the shape of their social lives. This approach presumes that objects, spaces, food, clothing and the practices of using them are not secondary to a religion but primary aspects of it. (ibid., p. 15)

  • 4 The concept of agency as a capacity inherent to non-human/tangible objects is borrowed from Latour (...)
  • 5 Kopytoff suggested the idea of attempting cultural biographies of things in connection with the pro (...)

7Following this definition allows us to concentrate not only on the physical characteristics of artefacts – such as their size and weight, material, content (decorative designs, inscriptions, diagrams etc.) or texture – the information about which, if not indicated in a textual source, is unattainable for us, but to focus instead on the “agency”4 of material objects under investigation, or, better still, on the network of social agents of which those objects are active participants. This approach may help to establish and describe the relationships between material objects and other agents, or even the dynamics and different phases of this relationships, thus contributing to the composition of the “cultural biography”5 of the investigated things.

On genre and purpose

  • 6 Teleki discovered and studied forty eight inventories written in Mongolian and twenty one in Tibeta (...)
  • 7 From Chinese dēng cè – “note, protocol, archive, list, register” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1566).

8Urga monastic inventories described by Teleki are written in two languages – Mongolian and Tibetan – with the former prevailing6. Although most of the texts written in Mongolian are determined in the title by the word dans or dangsa (Mo.)7, the majority of the sources comprised in Tibetan include the term dkar chag (Tib.) in their title. This fact allowed the researcher to associate the documents she studied with a well-known and highly productive genre of Tibetan Buddhist literature such as dkar chag.

9Vostrikov characterised this genre as belonging to the Tibetan historical-geographical literature, specifying, however, that when speaking about dkar chags, the geographical component is much less significant than the historical one. According to him, such texts include lists of the most important and noteworthy items situated or kept in the described place or building and introduce, inter alia, complete enumerations of articles immured inside statues, stupas and other sacred structures. As a rule, these lists are accompanied by narratives about the history of erection of a certain monastery, temple or statue and sometimes also by the subsequent history of such place or even the entire history of a cult to which a place is devoted (Vostrikov 2007, p. 107). Vostrikov noted that dkar chags are intended to serve as subject indexes or catalogues to the described place or building (ibid., p. 111).

  • 8 According to Martin, the three categories of things classified into “the three supports” are consid (...)

10In his concise, but rather informative article on dkar chags, Martin specifically underlines the attribution of dkar chags to one of the “traditional Tibetan literary genre (Martin 1996, p. 501). Considering the concept of “the three supports” (Тib. rten gsum)8 to the description of which dkar chags are usually devoted, Martin gives the following definition of the genre:

[…] a dkar chag is a text describing the construction and/or content of items which Tibetan Buddhist traditions consider holy and capable of bestowing blessings (byin brlabs). (ibid., p. 504).

11Martin names the memorialisation of “the merit of all those who participated in or supported the construction of public objects of worship” as one of the possible motives for writing dkar chags (ibid., p. 505).

  • 9 A description of the Maitreya statue of the Aginskii datsan in Buryatia may serve as an example of (...)

12Mongolian Buddhist scholars willingly borrowed the genre of dkar chag from Tibetans and created their own treatises, which boast all the principal characteristics attributed to their Tibetan counterparts9.

13The Urga inventories studied by Teleki were all written in the period of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century. The texts enumerate statues, thangkas and other images of various deities, sacred books, ritual implements, and other objects of décor and furniture. The description of items often includes information about their size, the artistic style in which they were produced and the material. In comparison with Tibetan dkar chags, which often included historical accounts devoted to the establishment and development of a given monastery, the Urga inventories are mere lists of objects not complemented by any historical details (Teleki 2015, pp. 187-189, 202).

14The reason for compiling the Urga inventories, as well as their purpose, has not been established by Teleki with any certainty. The scholar suggested that the texts might have been made up “in connection with the Manchu emperors or the Bogd Gegeens’ orders, with the foundation or moving of temples or financial purposes or simply registration of the jas properties” (ibid., p. 202).

15The inventories from Buryatia, which are the main subject of the present article, belong to a completely different type of text. Although their content is very similar to that of the Urga inventories, as they also simply describe the property of a monastery in a list form, they have little to do with the genre of dkar chag and should be considered not as examples of Buddhist literature but as bureaucratic papers, official documents issued by monasteries as legitimate religious institutions, the activities of which are regulated by the state law and controlled by the lay local officials.

Russian imperial legislation regulating the activity of the Buddhist monasteries in Transbaikalia

16Before proceeding to the analysis of the Buryat monasteries’ inventories, I would like to give a brief overview of the history of the Buddhist monasteries in the Transbaikalia region and the development of the state law governing the life and operation of these religious institutions. Such a historical introduction is necessary to demonstrate how and why a type of bureaucratic document such as a monastery inventory came to life.

  • 10 The treaty of Kyakhta was signed on the 21st October 1727. The treaty proclaimed eternal peace betw (...)

17When Russian expansion reached Eastern Siberia, the territory of Transbaikalia was inhabited by various Tungusic, Turkic and Mongolian language peoples including Buryats (Bogdanov 1926, pp. 28-33). Chronologically the process of incorporation of this region into the Russian Empire began with the building of the stockaded town on Yenisei (Ru. Eniseiskii ostrog) in 1618 and ended with the conclusion of the treaty of Kyakhta in 1727 (Bazarov 2011, p. 36)10. After the establishment of borders between the Russian and Qing Empires, the Russian administration began to pay closer attention to the question of the religion followed by the Buddhist population of Transbaikalia. It is worth noting that, if judged by the Buryat historical chronicles and the Cossacks’ reports from the middle of the 17th century, the Buddhist clergy acting in the Transbaikalia region prior to 1727 was not centralised or organised into any monastic system (Rumiantsev & Okun’ 1960, p. 193, 357). The monks performed rituals in small felt temples and provided medical services on private requests and invitations from the local population. The region was tightly connected with the Khalkha, which was the centre of religious life and institutionalised monastic organisation in this part of the Mongolian Buddhist world (Tsyrempilov 2013, p. 49).

  • 11 Vladislavich-Raguzinskii (1669-1738) originated from a Serbian noble family settled in the Republic (...)
  • 12 The full title of the document was “The instruction issued by the ambassadorial office of the count (...)
  • 13 The document ordered that foreign Buddhist monks should not be allowed to cross the newly establish (...)

18The first attempt to officially regulate the religious matters of the Buddhist Mongolian-Buryat peoples inhabiting the region was made by the count Savva Lukich Vladislavich-Raguzinskii11. The instruction for the border guards12 issued by him soon after the treaty of Kyakhta was signed was an important document, which determined the policy of the local administration regarding the Buddhist clergy and lay Buddhists of Transbaikalia for the next century (Gerasimova 1957, p. 24). The document not only legitimised the status of the Buddhist community living in this part of the Russian Empire but also laid the foundation for the centralised administration of the Transbaikalia Buddhist clergy (Tsyrempilov 2013, p. 52)13.

19In 1741, the Russian administration in the person of the vice-governor of Irkutsk for the first time collected the information regarding the number of Buddhist monks and temples in Transbaikalia and presented it to the government. The reported one hundred and fifty monks were approved by the decree issued in the same year by the empress Elizabeth Petrovna to become the so-called “staff” (Ru. shtatnyi) monks, who were exempted from paying the tribute to the state treasury and other duties and allowed to propagate their teaching among the nomads (Galdanova et al. 1983, p. 18; Tsyrempilov 2013, pp. 55-63).

  • 14 Damba Darzha Zaiaev was born in 1702 or 1710 to one of the Tsongol families who originated from Inn (...)

20The first stationary wooden Buddhist temple was built by the Buryats in the 1750s. Ngag dbang phun tshogs, supposedly a Tibetan Buddhist monk who at the time held the position of the head-lama of the Buddhist in Transbaikalia, together with Damba Darzha Zaiaev14 delivered a petition to the state officials asking for permission to erect a wooden building of a Buddhist temple in Hilgantui. According to different sources, a positive decision was issued by various bureaucratic offices: in 1753 by the Chikoisk administration office of the Selenga district of the Irkutsk province (Ru. Chikoiskoe upravlenie Selenginskogo uezda Irkutskoi gubernii) and in 1758 by the governor of Tobolsk. This first Buryat Buddhist stationary datsan became known as Hilgantuiskii or Tsongol’skii with the Tibetan name of Dga’ ldan ’bras spungs. Zaiaev was appointed its abbot (Tsyrempilov 2013, pp. 66-68).

21In 1758, the second wooden datsan was founded on the left shore of the Selenga river by the Gusinoe lake. The datsan known as Tamchinskii or Gusinoozёrskii was given the Tibetan name of Bkra shis dga’ ldan rdo rje gling. Upon its foundation, the parish of the Tsongol’skii datsan split when the Atagans, Hatagins, Sartuls and several other groups of Buryats joined the congregation of the Gusinoozёrskij datsan. These two datsans, which had been struggling for supremacy and the status of the residence of the head of the Transbaikal Buddhists for many years, became the leading Buddhist religious centres. Numerous smaller Buddhist temples situated on the right and left banks of the Selenga river consolidated under the supervision of the Tsongol’skii and Gusinoozёrskii datsans respectively (Galdanova et al. 1983, p. 21).

22At approximately the same time, monastic Buddhism began to take shape among the Hori Buryats who lived to the east of the Selenga. They might have had several movable felt temples by the 1770s, but it was only in 1773 that the state officials issued permission for the erection of a permanent wooden building (ibid., pp. 22-23; Tsybenov 2011, p. 17).

  • 15 The title combines Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist terms. Thus, the element bandido is an adaptation (...)

23In 1764, the district administration of Irkutsk appointed Damba Darzha Zaiaev the official leader of the entire Mongolian-Buryat Buddhist clergy living to the south from Lake Baikal. Zaiaev was granted the title of Bandido Hambo Lama15 giving him the right to initiate the clergy of the lower ranks. From that moment, the further struggle for the leadership between various representatives of the Buryat Buddhists came down to the attempts to gain the title of the Bandido Hambo Lama (Tsyrempilov 2013, p. 82; Razumov & Sosnovskii 1898, p. 131).

24Officially, the rivalry between the three Buryat Buddhist centres finished in 1809 when Gavan Ishizhamsuev was approved to hold the position of the chief Bandido Hambo Lama of all the Selenga, Tsongol and Hori datsans (with the seat in the Gusinoozёrskii datsan) by the district administration of Irkutsk (Chimitdorzhin 2010, p. 51). The Tsongol monks, however, did not recognise the superiority of the Hambo Lama and reserved for themselves de facto an unofficial right to make autonomous decisions over questions of religious administration (Tsyrempilov 2013, p. 86). The Hori monks also accepted the leading position of the head of the Gusinoozёrskii datsan with great reluctance and made attempts to gain some degree of independence by acquiring high religious titles for their prominent lamas (Galdanova et al. 1983, p. 25; Tsybenov 2011, p. 24).

25The lack of a centralised administrative system for the Buryat Buddhist monastic community during the second half of the 18th to the beginning of the 19th centuries did not have a negative influence on its development. According to the statistical records, which the Siberian state administration began keeping in 1741, the number of Buddhist monks in 1774 totalled six hundred and seventeen and increased rapidly to two thousand five hundred and two by 1833, and to four thousand six hundred and thirty-seven by 1831 (Galdanova et al. 1983, p. 26; Tsyrempilov 2013, p. 88). As for the officially legitimised datsans, in the period from 1741 to 1822, eighteen Buddhist temples were registered in Transbaikalia. The decade from 1822 to 1831 was characterised by the swift growth of the monastic community, with fifteen new datsans built and many of the old felt temples replaced with stationary wooden constructions (Gerasimova 1957, p. 26).

26Such a relatively fast spread and development of Buddhism and its monastic institutions among Buryats might have been enabled, among other reasons, by the passive position of both the local officials and state administration, who did not interfere much with the religious affairs of the Transbaikalia Buryats. Many documents issued by the district administration in Tobolsk and Irkutsk were either responses to the petitions and requests submitted by the representatives of the Buryat nobility to resolve individual cases or directives which were advisory rather than normative in nature.

  • 16 Mihail Mihailovich Speranskii (1772-1839) – a count, an outstanding political figure of the time of (...)

27The Buryat Buddhist monastic community became the focus of attention for the imperial government only after the activities of Speranskii16 in Siberia and his reforms, which resulted in the composition of a special code of laws for the rule over the non-Russian peoples of Siberia. This legislative act had the title “The statute on administration of people of a different kin” (Ru. Ustav ob upravlenii inorodtsev). It was approved by the emperor Alexander I in June 1822 and subsequently included in “The Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire” (Ru. Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii). The goal of the statute was, first, to regulate the lay administration over and among the non-Russian peoples of Siberia. For this reason, the number of articles devoted to religious matters was very limited. Nevertheless, it became the legislative document legitimated on the highest level which confirmed the right of the non-Christian, non-Russian peoples of Siberia to follow their traditional religion, dealing directly with the non-Christian clergy operating among non-Russians and making them subordinate to the local police (PSZ 1830, p. 410, §289; Tsyrempilov 2013, pp  96-99).

28After the Siberian administrative reforms by Speranskii, the state officials seriously engaged themselves in tackling the problems of religious practices among the Buryats of Transbaikalia. Various bureaucratic authorities, who either occupied some high-ranking position in the Eastern Siberian administration or were sent to the region from the capital with an inspection, proposed the entire range of legislative projects regulating the religious affairs of the Buryats.

  • 17 Aleksandr Stepanovich Lavinskii (1776-1844) held the office of the Governor General of Eastern Sibe (...)

29Thus in 1826 the Governor General of Eastern Siberia Lavinskii17 initiated the compilation of a code of laws restricting the activity of the Transbaikal Buddhist clergy. This project was submitted for consideration to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who rejected it.

  • 18 The Kudunskii statute included two hundred and eighty-nine articles and determined the principles o (...)

30The next project was prepared by Schilling von Cannstatt, who was sent to Eastern Siberia by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs specially to examine the administrative system of the Buddhist institutions, check the data provided by Lavinskii and draw up an appropriate legislative document. The work of Schilling von Cannstatt was distinguished by close cooperation with the representatives of the local public authority and Buddhist administration. According to his request, a gathering of senior monks of the Kudunskii datsan as well as members of local governing bodies composed a document entitled “Religious statute of the Mongolian-Buryat clergy of Transbaikalia” (Ru. Religioznyi ustav mongolo-buriatskogo duhovenstva Zabaikal’ia) later referred to in scientific literature as the “Kudunskii statute” (Ru. Kudunskii ustav)18. As a result, the project by Schilling von Cannstatt, which borrowed many of its points from the Buryat customary law and internal Buddhist monastic regulations, had been discussed in different governmental departments for seven years and was eventually rejected in 1838 (Galdanova et al. 1983, pp. 27-28).

31In 1841, supervision over the Eastern Siberian Buddhist matters passed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Department of Religious Affairs of the non-Russian Confessions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in general and locally to the Central Administration of Eastern Siberia. The latter office attempted to work out another legislative project, putting the activities of Buddhists under the direct control of the local lay non-Russian authorities and the administration of the district of Irkutsk. The project was again rejected (Gerasimova 1957, p. 33).

32In 1849, an officer of the Department of Religious Affairs, count Sergei Levashёv, relying on the results of yet another inspection conducted by him on the orders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, presented a draft of “The statute on administration for the Buddhist clergy of Eastern Siberia” (Ru. Ustav dlia rukovodstva lamaiskomu duhovenstvu Vostochnoi Sibiri). The document was rejected in a manner similar to all the other projects previously proposed (ibid., pp. 33-34; Pozdneev 1886, pp. 173-175).

  • 19 Nikolai Nikolaevich Murav’ёv-Amurskii (1809-1881) was appointed to the post of the Governor General (...)
  • 20 In 1636 Hong Taiji, a Manchu ruler, the first emperor of the Qing dynasty, established a Mongol bur (...)
  • 21 The paragraphs which excessively exposed the influence of the Qing code were excluded from the fina (...)

33Eventually Murav’ёv19, who was appointed to the position of the Governor General of Eastern Siberia in 1847, came out with his own variant of a legislative act regulating Buddhist affairs in Transbaikalia, which was entitled “The Statute of the Buddhist clergy of Eastern Siberia” (Ru. Polozhenie o lamskom duhovenstve Vostochnoi Sibiri). An interesting peculiarity which distinguishes the draft of this document from all the preceding projects is that many of its articles were modelled after the code of laws governing the Tibetan-Mongolian monasteries in Beijing and issued by the Lifanyuan20 in 181721. In May 1853, the project by Murav’ёv was approved by the emperor Nicolas I, who wrote the following resolution on the document: “Consider to be approved but not to include in the Collection of Laws” (Ru. Schitat’ utverzhdënnym’’, no ne vnosit’ v’’ Svod’’ zakonov’’) (Razumov & Sosnovskii 1898, p. 140; Vashkevich 1885, p. 74).

34The statute of the Buddhist clergy of Eastern Siberia claimed the existence of thirty-four datsans in Transbaikalia staffed with two hundred and eighty-five monks. These numbers were fixed by the statute, and the building of any new religious edifices, as well as the exceeding of the number of monks defined by the statute, was forbidden. The official staff of the Buddhist clergy of Eastern Siberia attached to the statute had to be distributed between the thirty-four datsans listed in the following table (Vashkevich 1885, pp. 143-144).

Table 1. The list of thirty four datsans officially approved for functioning in Transbaikalia after 1853

1) Aginskii

13) Gusinoozёrkij

25) Hozhirtaevskii

2) Alarskii

14) Gygetuevskii

26) Hokyurtaevskii

3) Aninskii, or Oninskii

15) Iroiskii, or Irinskii

27) Tsongol’skii, former Kil’gontuiskii

4) Arakiretuevskii, former Ashebagatskii

16) Kudarinskii

28) Tsugilinskii

5) Atsagatskii

17) Kyrenskii, former Tunkinskii

29) Tsulginskii

6) Atsaiskii

18) Ol’honskii

30) Chzhagutaevskii, or Zagasutaevskii

7) Barguzinskii

19) Sartol’skii

31) Chzhidinskii, former Atagatskii

8) Bargol’taevskii

20) Tarbagataevskii

32) Chitsanovskii

9) Bolakskii

21) Tokchinskii

33) Egituevskii

10) Bul’tumurskii, former Tabangutskii the first

22) Tugnugaltaevskij, or Tugnujskii

34) Iangasinskii, or Iangozhinskii

11) Byrtsuiskii

23) Uchotuevskii, former Tabangutskii the second

12) Guninskii, or Gunovskii

24) Hodonskii, former Kubdutskii

  • 22 According to “The statute on administration of people of a different kin” (Ru. Ustav ob upravlenii (...)

35According to the fifty-first paragraph of the statute, all movable and immovable property of the datsans was to be managed by a warden (Ru. starosta). One warden was to be elected for every datsan for every three-year term by the decision of the members of a datsans’s parish from among these members. The elected warden was to be approved by the Military Governor of Transbaikalia. According to the fifty-second paragraph, the warden had to submit a yearly report of the state of a datsans’s property to the steppe duma22. Moreover, the abbots of the datsans had to report the state of their datsans’ property to the Hambo Lama every January. The Hambo Lama, in his turn, had an obligation to compile a general report regarding the property of all the datsans, to be submitted to the Military Governor of Transbaikalia not later than March every year (ibid., pp. 134-135).

36Judging from the abundance of monasteries’ inventories found in the archives of Buryatia, the Buddhist administration of the Buryat datsans followed the provisions of the statute regarding the reports of the monastic property rather accurately.

37In what follows, I give an analysis of several property reports compiled at different times in different datsans and discuss the peculiarities of their structure, content, language and style.

Property inventories from Buryat Buddhist monasteries

Archives and libraries storing the inventories

  • 23 “The entire body of records of an organization, family, or individual that have been created and ac (...)

38The main repository keeping various documents issued or received by the administration of different Buryat datsans including property inventories is the State Archives of the Republic of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude. Most of the documents pertaining to the life and functioning of the Buryat Buddhist monastic institutions are preserved in the fonds23 of certain datsans. Overall, the archives dispose the fonds of eighteen datsans, namely of the Aginskii (fonds 518), Aninskii (fonds 519), Atsagatskii (fonds 425), Atsaiskii (fonds 517), Bultumurskii (fonds Р.-1993), Guneiskii (fonds 420), Gusinoozёrskii (fonds 84), Zugalaiskii (fonds 522), Iroiskii (fonds 520), Kudunskii (fonds 470), Tokchinsko-Zutkuleiskii (fonds 443), Tugno-Galtaiskii (fonds 430), Huzhirtaevskii (fonds 471), Tsolginskii (fonds 466), Tsugol’skii (fonds 521), Chesanskii (fonds 459), Egetuiskii (fonds 285), and Iangazhinskii (fonds 454) datsans (Barannikova 1998, pp. 73-84).

39The fonds of the Gusinoozёrskii datsan is the largest, containing six hundred and ten files covering the period 1788 to 1929. As the datsan was the seat of the head of the Buddhist clergy of Eastern Siberia – the Bandido Hambo Lama – the chancellery of the monastery permanently maintained correspondence with all the Transbaikalia datsans. Reports, petitions, inquiries, complaints and other documents accumulated, therefore, in the Gusinoozёrskii datsan. The monasteries’ inventories were no exception. According to the statute of the Buddhist clergy of Eastern Siberia, every datsan had to send a yearly report on the state of its movable and immovable property to the Hambo Lama, who subsequently had to prepare a general report to be submitted to the military governor of Transbaikalia. The content of the datsans’ fonds confirms such a state of affairs, as almost every datsan’s fonds preserves yearly property reports, whereas the Gusinoozёrskii fonds keeps the reports gathered from other datsans, its own property inventories and summary reports, including information on the thirty-four Eastern Siberian datsans (ibid., p. 77).

40The Centre of Oriental Manuscripts and Xylographs of the Institute of Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Ulan-Ude) is the second repository keeping administrative documents issued by or in relation with the Buryat Buddhist monastic institutions and Buddhist clergy. The property inventories of the Buryat datsans are known to be kept in the Mongolica I (M I) fonds of the Centre’s library (Tsyrempilov 2004, pp. 63-82). The inventories describe the property of the Tsugol’skii (ibid., pp. 66-71, no. 193-208; pp. 74-75, no. 225), Atsagatskii (ibid., p. 72, no. 215), Guneiskii (ibid., pp. 72-73, no. 217; p. 79,no. 250) and Togchinskii (ibid., p. 75, no. 226) datsans. All date back to the last two decades of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

41Some documents related to the activities of the Hambo Lama, the Buddhist clergy of Transbaikalia and the administration of the datsans can be found in the State Archives of Zabaikal’skii krai (Chita).

Overview of the inventories under analysis

42In this article, I perform an analysis of seven property inventories issued in seven different Transbaikalia datsans. There were no other special reasons to choose these particular inventories but the different places and dates of their origin and the diverse styles in which they were compiled. The multitude of similar documents preserved in the aforementioned archives did not allow me to process all the available property reports, a comparative analysis of which would, without doubt, have had significant historical and cultural anthropological value. The present investigation aims to draw closer scholarly attention to this type of bureaucratic paperwork, which was created in the overlap between Buddhist monastic and state administrative worlds, in order to demonstrate their unique nature of belonging to these two worlds simultaneously.

43The inventories a detailed analysis of which constitutes the main body of this article, are as follows:

    • 24 All the inventories under analysis are kept in the State Archives of the Republic of Buryatia. The (...)

    Property inventory of the Atsaiskii datsan, compiled in 1855, fonds 517, file 25, f.1.24

  1. Property inventory of the Tsongol’skii datsan, compiled in 1861, fonds 84, file 208, ff. 1-2.

  2. Property inventory of the Kudunskii datsan, compiled in 1860, fonds 84, file 208, ff. 18v-21r.

  3. Property inventory of the Aginskii datsan, compiled in 1860, fonds 84, file 208, ff. 27v-34r.

  4. Property inventory of the Ol’honskii datsan, compiled in 1873, fonds 84, file 299, ff. 47r-49v.

  5. Property inventory of the Barguzinskii datsan, compiled in 1873, fonds 84, file 299, ff. 53r-55r.

  6. Property inventory of the Iangazhinskii datsan, compiled in 1878, fonds 454, file 8, ff. 59r-61v.

44The first inventory of the Atsaiskii datsan and the last inventory of the Iangazhinskii datsan are kept in the fonds of the corresponding datsans. The other six inventories are preserved in the fonds of the Gusinoozёrskii datsan.

45All inventories are written in the classical Mongolian script. All the numbers in the documents are given either in Tibetan numerals or written in words in Mongolian.

46The monetary values of the items enumerated by the documents, if provided, are said to be given “in silver” (Mo. čaγan-iyar), in möngö (Mo.) for monetary units of low denomination and tügürig (Mo.) for monetary units of high denomination. In Mongolian, the expression tügürig möngö was used to designate “money” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001c, p. 239). The Buryats are, however, known to use tügürig for roubles (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1932). The values, therefore, are most likely given in roubles and kopecks indicated by the Mongolian words tügürig and möngö respectively.

The Buryat Buddhist monasteries’ property inventories

Property inventory of the Atsaiskii datsan

  • 25 One of the Selenga Buryats’ datsans. It was founded in 1743 on the eastern shore of the Gusinoe lak (...)
  • 26 In this source, in the majority of cases, d in the final position is written down with the sign use (...)
  • 27 The word mal is inserted between the lines.

47The document dates from the 31st December 1855 (Mo. 1855 on-u diqabri-yin 31-ü edür). The title of the inventory is “A record revealing in what follows one by one various religious images, books, musical instruments, decorative items kept inside the Atsaiskii datsan25, its subordinate temples and other buildings together with the herds, according to the prior state of the treasury” (Mo. veyidamasti ačayin dačang qabiy-a-du sümed26 bolon ali barilγad ba dotorki aliba burqan nom-ud kögčim-ün ǰingseg čimeg-güd ba egün-ü kereglel-dü uridayin bayiγsan ǰis-a-yin mal27-nud-tai tai tus tusaγar-i egün-eče doroγsi ilerkei).

48The information presented in the inventory is organised in tabular form. All the numbers given in the document are indicated by Tibetan numerals. The listed items are divided into eleven groups as follows: “deity-images” (Mo. burqad), “religious texts” (Mo. nom-ud), “appliances and textile decorations” (Mo. ǰingseng čimeg yandar-nud), “musical hand instruments” (Mo. kögǰim-ün γar-un baγaǰid), “offering utensils” (Mo. takil-un beleskile), “religious texts stored in the minor temples” (Mo. baγ-a sümüd-tü quradaγ noman-ud), “buildings subordinate to them” (Mo. egünü qabiyatu barilγad), “interior items” (Mo. dotorki yaγumad), “items acquired in 1855” (Mo. 1855 on-a sin-e nemegsen yaγum-a), “printing blocks of texts” (Mo. nom-ud-un keb-üd), and “herds of the treasury” (Mo. ǰisayin mal-nud). In a separate column, the total number of items is indicated by Tibetan numerals. The segment of the table entitled “1855 on-a sin-e nemegsen yaγum-a” is crossed out. The information about the new acquisition is given below, outside the main table. The remark says: “Two tangkas and one brass pot were newly obtained in 1855; added them to the numbers given above and wrote down” (Mo. 1855 on-du sin-e nemegdegsen 2 ǰiruγ burqan. 1 γaulin dongbo bui. ede degereki toγan-dur qamtutqaǰu bičibei).

  • 28 The inventory lists the following five types of deity-images: five pieces of “gilded statuettes” (M (...)
  • 29 The section “religious texts” (Mo. nom-ud) includes entries such as, for example, “xylographic Praj (...)
  • 30 The section “printing blocks of texts” (Mo. nom-ud-un keb-üd) includes six entries: “wooden printin (...)
  • 31 Tib. bla bre (Tucci 1980, p. 123).
  • 32 The badan is a decoration sewed from long and wide ribbons of five colours: blue, white, red, yello (...)
  • 33 Qadaγ (Tib. kha btags) is a ceremonial scarf which is usually produced from silk or cotton cloth an (...)
  • 34 Tib. bkra shis. This is a type of short qadaγ which normally has 70 or 50 cm and is decorated with (...)
  • 35 This big round umbrella usually has 1,5 m or more in diameter. It is often made from silk (Pozdneev (...)
  • 36 White silk scarf (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba. 2002, p. 465).
  • 37 Tib. dkyil ’khor; Skt. maṇḍala.
  • 38 Tib. me long. A metal circle produced from yellow polished copper. It is used during the services t (...)
  • 39 Tib. bum pa. A ritual vessel in which consecrated water is kept. It has the form of a vase without (...)

49The inventory describes the items in a general manner, providing no details. Thus, the text gives only a type of deity-image28 without specifying the names of the deities presented in the forms of statuettes or tangkas. Religious texts listed in the inventory were all, most likely, written in Tibetan. The information about the language of the treatises, however, is not given29. Interestingly, the language of the texts the printing blocks of which were kept in the monastery, is indicated by the document30. The monastery interior decorations listed under the title ǰingseng čimeg yandar-nud are represented by categories of items such as “silk baldachins” and “cotton baldachins” (Mo. torγan labari; bös labari31), “silk victory banners” and “cotton victory banners” (Mo. toraγan ǰingčian; bös ǰingčian), silk and cotton five-colour ribbons (Mo. toraγan badan; bös badan)32, “vangdan ceremonial scarfs with multicoloured silk cloth” (Mo. vangdan qadaγ coqor kib-tеi)33, “long silk ceremonial scarfs” (Mo. uratu toraγun qadaγ), dasi34 ceremonial scarfs, “cotton umbrella” (Mo. bös sikür)35, “ceremonial scarfs and white silk scarfs” (Mo. qadaγ yandar36), “silk decorations” (Mo. torγan čimeg-üd), “mandalas” (Mo. mangdal)37, “mirrors” (Mo. toli38, and “ritual vases” (Mo. bumba)39.

  • 40 Tib. rdo rje dril bu; Skt. vajra ghanta.
  • 41 Tib. da ma ru; Skt. ḍamaru.
  • 42 Tib. sil snyan (Tucci 1988, p. 118; Beer 1999, p. 201, 229). A percussion instrument – a pair of co (...)
  • 43 Or čang; Tib. zangs. A pair of plates with a hemispheric bulge in the centre. The bulges serve as h (...)
  • 44 Tib. rnga. A flat drum, the frame of which is usually made from wood or bark and is dyed in red and (...)
  • 45 Or labai; Tib. dung or dung dkar.
  • 46 Tib. gling bu. A wind instrument, the sound of which resembles a flute. It consists of three separa (...)
  • 47 Tib. mdo dar ma. A percussion instrument which consists of a quadrangular wooden frame with a handl (...)
  • 48 The seven bowls in which offerings are served on the Buddhist altar every day. They represent the “ (...)
  • 49 The eight offerings which are traditionally placed on the offering table are metal statuettes repre (...)
  • 50 The seven treasures are placed next to or behind the eight offerings on the offering table. They in (...)

50According to the inventory, the Atsaiskii datsan possessed and utilised a standard set of ritual items and musical instruments. The corresponding sections of the document list, among others, objects such as “a vajra-bell” (Mo. vačir qongqu)40, “a double-sided hand-drum” (Mo. damaru)41, “small cymbals” (Mo. selnin)42, “big cymbals’ (Mo. čing)43, “a drum” (Mo. kenggereγ)44, “a seashell trumpet” (Mo. dung büriy-e)45, “a flute” (Mo. bisikigür)46, duu-a darm-a (Mo.)47, “a big offering table” (Mo. yeke-yin takil-un sirege), “branch-bowls” (Mo. üy-e čügüče)48, “the eight offerings” (Mo. 8 takil)49, “the seven treasures” (Mo. 7 erdeni)50, “a small platter for baling offering” (Mo. baling-un bičiqan tabaγ), “a peacock’s tail in two parts” (Mo. 2 keseg toγus-un segül), and “the cart and the figure of a horse used during the ceremony of the circumambulation of Maitreya” (Mo. mayidari ergüküi-yin terge mori).

51The inventory reports that in 1855, the Atsaiskii datsan already had nine subordinate “smaller temples” (Mo. baγ-a sümüd).

52The last section of the main table of the document provides a detailed description of the livestock belonging to the datsan’s treasury. The section includes seventeen entries which name various male and female domestic animals.

53The inventory is not signed.

The property inventory of the Tsongol’skii datsan

  • 51 In this word and in many other cases in this source, two diacritical dots are put to the left of th (...)
  • 52 Most likely the same as the Modern Buryat bagsaamzha – “assumption, rough estimation” (Cheremisov 1 (...)

54The date of the document compilation is not precise – only the year 1861 is mentioned (Mo. 1861 on-a). The title of the document reads “In this approximate report deity-images, religious texts and other objects kept inside the Tsongol’skii datsan called Baldan braibung and its six satellite small temples, non-datsans are gathered in sections and presented together with their monetary values” (Mo. čongγol-un baldan brai büng kemekü dačang ba tegünü nökör ǰirγuγan ayimaγ dačang busu baγ-a sümes teyin dotorki burqan nom terigüten-i ayimaγ ayimaγ-iyar qamtutqan51 kedüi tügürig čeng-tei-yin baγcaramači52-yin veyidomosti egün-dür-e ilerkeyilebe). The inventory is written in a tabular form. The monetary values of all the articles are presented in two separate rows, with the headings mönggö and tügü. The monetary values are indicated by the Tibetan numerals.

  • 53 The status of clan-temples meant that these temples were built and kept at the expense of some clan (...)
  • 54 From Tibetan rgyags khang (Budazhapova 2012, p. 86).
  • 55 Tib. sMan bla; Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru.
  • 56 Tib. Chos skyong; Skt. Dharmapāla.
  • 57 Tib. sPyan ras gzigs.

55The document starts with the list of the main and subordinate buildings of the datsan which includes the following fourteen entries: “the wooden building of the Tsongol’skii datsan with outside and interior painting and metal” (Mo. čongγol dačang-un modon barilγ-a bolon γadar dotor-un sirdlege ba temür) – 9 348 roubles; “the wooden building of its satellite clan-temple53 called γomaling” (Mo. egünü nökör γomaling kemekü ayimaγ-un modon barilγan) – 1 500 roubles; “the wooden building of the nimai clan-temple together with its interior painting” (Mo. nimai-yin ayimaγ-un modon barilγ-a kiged dotor-un sirdelge selte) – 1 080 roubles; “the wooden building of the luslaling clan-temple together with its interior painting and glass windows” (Mo. luslaling ayimaγ-un modon barilγ-a kiged dotor-un sirdelge sil čongqu selte) – 1 580 roubles; “the wooden building of the nitang clan-temple” (Mo. nitang ayimaγ-un modon barilγan) – 1 500 roubles; “the wooden building of the čoyingqor clan-temple” (Mo. čöyingqor ayimaγ-un modon barilγan) – 1 500 roubles; “the wooden building of the rabcii clan-temple” (Mo. rabčii ayimaγ-un modon barilγan) – 1 500 roubles; “the building of the kitchen” (Mo. ǰiγan54-u barilγan) – 300 roubles; “the building of the Medicine Buddha55 temple which is another one of the outside small temples” (Mo. γadaγur ki üčüken sümed-eče otoči-yin sümen-ü barilγ-a) – 50 roubles; “the wooden building of the temple of the protective deity”56 (Mo. sakiγulsun-u süm-e-yin modon barilγan) – 50 roubles; “the building of the Avalokiteśvara57 temple” (Mo. ari-a balu-a-yin sümen-ü barilγ-a) – 55 roubles; “the building of the Great Wheel temple together with the deity-images and sacred texts kept inside” (Mo. yeke kürdün-ü süm-e-yin barilγ-a bolon dotor-un nom ba burqan selte) – 274 roubles; and “the Small Wheel temple with the prayer-texts kept inside” (Mo. baγ-a kürdün-ü süm-e dotorki maṇi-tai) – 157 roubles, “the fourteen-segment fence surrounding all these (buildings) together with four doors” (Mo. edeger bügüde-yin γadaγur toγoriγsan 14 üy-e čiusun qarši 4 yeke egüde selte) – 372 roubles.

  • 58 Although the term sergü literally means “golden image” (Tib. gser sku), I chose to translate it as (...)
  • 59 Tib. gser sku – “a golden Buddha-image” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 1375).
  • 60 Most likely an incorrect or variant reading of qatqulγa – “pricking, piercing, sticking” (Kowalewsk (...)
  • 61 A circle-mark is put to the left from the γ-sign instead of the double diacritical dot.
  • 62 “Cloth-wrapper of a book or deity-image” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001a, p. 232).
  • 63 Here a Galik sign is used.
  • 64 Most likely from the Tibetan thugs dam, referring to some form of the datsan’s main tutelary deity’ (...)
  • 65 May refer to the ritual crown called cod pan in Tibetan. This headgear had an oval form and was cov (...)
  • 66 A special Galik sign is used for č.
  • 67 “Fan, special arrow, winded with flax, used during offering rituals” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1634).
  • 68 May be an incorrect reading of sang (Mo.) – “treasury, repository, store” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 1289 (...)
  • 69 A variant reading of jangcan – “victory banner” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001b, p. 159). Tib. rg (...)
  • 70 Tib. tsha tsha. Religious objects made of clay including flat clay reliefs and miniature statuettes (...)
  • 71 Tib. rgyab rten (Budazhapova 2012, p. 87). For the description of the sitting furniture and textile (...)
  • 72 “Quadrangular sitting pillow” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001c, p 182).

56The next thirteen entries regard different kinds of objects kept in the main building of the Tsongol’skii datsan. The entries do not list or describe every item belonging to the respective category but just give their general name in the following way: “gilded58 deity-images kept in the great datsan” (Mo. yeke dačang-un dotorki sergü59 burqad) – 791 roubles; “painted deity-images pinned to the walls” (Mo. qanan-du qatalγa60tai ǰirumal burqad) – 1 280 roubles; “painted deity-images with edges” (Mo. ǰiq-a-tai ǰirumal burqad) – 625 roubles 95 kopecks; “the Kanjur and other texts together with cloth-wrapper” (Mo. γ̊angǰur61 bolon busu nom-ud barindaγ62 selte) – 6 006 roubles 40 kopecks; “the images of the main tutelary deities” (Mo. töb tügde63n64-üd) – 85 roubles; “offering table and the temple of the gilded deities together with its table” (Mo. takil-un sirege kiged sergü burqad-un süm-e sirege-tei) – 57 roubles; “the crown of the saint” (Mo. boγda-yin titim)65 – 4 roubles; “big and small cymbals, trumpets, flutes, bells, hand-drums and other musical instruments” (Mo. čang66 selnin büriy-e biskegür qongqu damaru terigüten kögčim-üd) – 289 roubles 30 kopecks; “the eight offerings, lion and offering bowls, ritual vases, mirrors, mandalas, teapots, platters, repository of ritual arrows and other ritual utensils” (Mo. 8 takil kiged arslan ba takil-un čügüče bumba toli mandal ǰabiy-a tabaγ dalalaγ-a67-yin sing68 terigüten takil-un keregten) – 200 roubles 50 kopecks; “various decorations such as ritual scarfs, silk cloth, five-colour ribbons and victory banners” (Mo. qadaγ kkib badan ǰingčan69 terigüten čimeg-üd) – 277 roubles 10 kopecks; “moulds for clay offering figures and printing blocks of the Rab gsal collection and the Vajracchedika Prajñāpāramitāsūtra” (Mo. sača70-yin keb kiged rabsal ba dorǰi ǰidba-yin bar) – 374 roubles 35 kopecks; “the cart, horse figure and decorations of Maitreya” (Mo. mayidari-yin terge mori čimeg-üd) – 75 roubles; and “sitting chairs and benches with pillows and mats” (Mo. saγudal-un sirege ǰibdan71 olboγ talbaγ72-du) – 144 roubles 50 kopecks.

57Similarly, the inventory lists the objects kept and used in the six clan-temples of the datsan and in its three smaller temples, namely the Medicine Buddha temple, the temple of the protective deity and the Avalokiteśvara temple. The only difference is that the described items are divided into eight or nine sections (gilded and painted deity-images, images of tutelary deities, texts, Prajñāpāramitā texts, musical instruments, ritual utensils, decorations and sitting furniture) in the case of the clan-temples and only into three sections (painted deity images, decorations and sitting furniture) in the case of the smaller temples.

58The inventory is not signed.

The property inventory of the Kudunskii datsan

  • 73 Kudunskii datsan was one of the oldest datsans of the Hori Buryats. It was founded in 1756 or 1758 (...)
  • 74 A variant of the Russian word opis’ meaning “inventory, register”.
  • 75 A variant of the Russian word vedomost’ meaning “list, record, register”.

59The title of the inventory reads “The report presenting the name-list of the Hori Kudunskii datsan73 (buildings) as well as deity-images, religious texts and other objects kept in it with their monetary values” (Mo. qori-yin qudun-u dačang ba dotorki burqan nom terigüten-ü obis74 neres ba čeng-tei-yi ilerkeyilegsen bedamosta75). The date of the compilation is not indicated in the document. At the end of the main table, however, the year 1860 is mentioned. This means we can presume that the document describes the state of affairs as of the end of 1860. The inventory is written in tabular form. The main table consists of four columns, the first of which contains sequence numbers of the entries indicated by the Tibetan numerals, whereas the second provides the names of the items, and the other two columns give the monetary values of the objects, which are also written down in the Tibetan numerals. The items described by the document are divided into eleven thematic sections by subheadings. They are listed one by one, with the sequence number given for every entry. According to this numeration, the inventory lists one hundred and sixty-two items.

  • 76 According to Asalhanova, in the Buryat tradition of deity-image production the tangkas were commonl (...)

60The first two entries of the inventory regard the buildings of the datsan – “one big wooden datsan with its outer fencing” (Mo. nige yeke modon dačang γadaγurki küriyetei-e) – 2 600 roubles, and “one small wooden temple” (Mo. nige baγ-a modon süm-e) – 60 roubles. The next eighty-one entries (from the third to the eighty third) describe deity-images and are introduced by two subheadings: the first one – “deity-images” (Mo. burqad anu) is placed before the third entry; the second one – “deity-images on small canvas” (Mo. baγ-a deleγ76 burqad anu) comes before the fifty-fourth entry. The majority of the entries give just the name of a deity or a Buddhist saint without specifying the form, material or size of the image. Some deities are said to be “painted on canvas” or “printed on silk” (Mo. deleγ-tü ǰiruγsan; torγon-du darumal). Among the deity-images enumerated under these two subheadings are Akṣobhya (Mo. migdûgba), green and white Tārās (Mo. noγon dar-a eke; čaγan dar-a eke), yellow Jambhala (Mo. sir-a ǰambala), Vajrabhadra (Mo. baǰir badaran-a), Sitātapatrā (Mo. čaγan sikür-tü), Bhaiṣajyaguru (Mo. otosiy), Cakrasaṃvara (Mo. demsuγ), Hayagrīva (Mo. damdin), thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara (Mo. mingγan motor-tai ari-a balu), Amitābha (Mo. abida), yellow and white Mañjuśrī (Mo. čaγan manǰaširi; sir-a manǰaširi), and many others.

  • 77 Mo. ǰangči or ǰangča. Mod. Bur. zhansha – “silk wrapper for sacred books” (Cheremisov 1951, p. 247) (...)
  • 78 This might be an incorrect or variant reading of dayisu – “tape, ribbon, cord” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèd (...)

61The third subheading which comes before the eighty-fourth entry is “religious texts” (Mo. nom-ud anu). The inventory includes eight positions under this heading among which are “one hundred and fifty volumes of a hand-written Kanjur with wrapper and binding cords” (Mo. ǰaγun tabin botiy beǰimel γangǰiur ǰingčiy77 dayiča78-tai) – 2 100 roubles, “sixteen volumes of the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra in Tibetan with wrapper and binding cords” (Mo. arban ǰiruγuγan botiy töbed yüm ǰingčiy dayiča-tai) – 90 roubles, “two volumes of the Mongolian Daśaśatasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitāsūtra” (Mo. qoyar botiy mongγol arban nayiman miγ-a-tu) – 20 roubles, “one volume of the Tibetan Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitāsūtra” (Mo. nige botiy töbed naiman miγ-a-tu) – 6 roubles, “two volumes of Mongolian Ma ni bka’ ’bum with a wrapper” (Mo. qoyar botiy mongγol ma-a ni kangbum ǰingčiy-tai) – 20 roubles, and others.

  • 79 Here a special Galik sign ᠣᠸᠨ is used for o.
  • 80 Tib. lam rim.
  • 81 Here a special Galik sign ᠣᠸᠨ is used for o.
  • 82 Tib. cho ga.
  • 83 Tib. sMan bla’i lho sgo.

62The next subheading “wooden printing blocks of texts” (Mo. nom-un modon keb-üd anu) joins nine items such as “thirty-two blocks of the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitāsūtra together with a text on the stages of the path” (Mo. dorǰi čô79daba bodiy mör80-tei γučin qoyar modon) – 22 roubles 80 kopecks, “seventy-three wooden blocks of the Bhaiṣajyaguru ritual-text” (Mo. otosiy-yin čô81ga82-yin keb dalan γurban modon) – 60 roubles 10 kopecks, “thirty-five blocks of the ‘South gate of the Medicine Buddha’ ritual-text” (Mo. otosiy-yin lhoγo83-yin keb γučin tabun modon), and others.

  • 84 A wooden beam used in Buddhist monasteries to call the monks for various meetings or services. For (...)
  • 85 The text of the inventory gives a Mongolian phonetical version of the word, which reads pa-a ru.

63The next subheading reads “percussion and wind musical instruments” (Mo. deledkü üliyekü daγu-tan anu). The entries under this heading describe a standard set of Buddhist musical instruments. Apart from the instruments found in the two previous inventories, the present document also lists the gaṇḍī (Skt.) beam84 (Mo. gangdiy modun) – 20 roubles. Every entry provides not only the names but also the number of musical instruments. The peculiarity is in the usage of the Russian noun para85, which means “a pair”. Surprisingly, not only cymbals are counted in pairs but also flutes and trumpets.

  • 86 Tib. phye ma phur ma. This decoration has a round form. It is made of eleven oblong multi-coloured (...)
  • 87 An obsolete Russian unit of length which equalled 0,71 m (Ozhegov & Shvedova 2006, p. 30).

64The sixth subheading refers to decorations. Apart from the decorations mentioned in the two inventories described before, this document includes items such as šim-a büram-a (Mo.)86 valued at 10 roubles for “two pieces and silk decorations called ‘the sun’ and ‘the moon’” (Mo. naran saran kemedeγ qoyar oyumal torγon čimeg) valued at 2 roubles. Describing “silk ribbons” (Mo. torγon kib), the text provides information about their colour and length given in arshin87 (Mo. arsim). As for the other decorations, the entries again contain not only their names but also their number.

  • 88 One zolotnik equalled 1/96 pound or 4,26 g (Ozhegov & Shvedova 2006, p. 232).

65The inventory distinguishes between offering utensils and offering weapons and enumerates them under two different subheadings – takil-un keregten anu and takil-un ǰebseγ-üd anu. The list of the offering utensils is longer than in the two inventories described above and more detailed. The entries again provide not only the objects’ names but also their number. An interesting nuance of the objects’ presentation is the usage of an obsolete Russian unit of weight – zolotnik88 (Mo. ǰoltoniγ) – in the description of “the silver offering bowls” (Mo. čaγan mönggön čügüče). Among the offering weapons listed by the document are, for example, “one blue iron armour” (Mo. nige köke tömör quyaγ) – 2 roubles, “one spear and one sword” (Mo. nige ǰida nige ilde) – 75 kopecks, “one tiger skin and one wolf skin” (Mo. nige baras-un arisu nige činu-yin arisu) – 3 roubles.

  • 89 Ru. ambar – “barn”.
  • 90 Mod. Bur. pyeèshèn – “stove” (Cheremisov 1951, p. 385).

66At the end of the inventory, the sitting furniture of the datsan is described in two entries under the subheading “chairs and mats” (Mo. sirge debisker-nüd anu). After that, the text lists other buildings of the monastery such as “one wooden kitchen” (Mo. nige modon ǰiγang) – 5 roubles, “one wooden barn” (Mo. nige modon agbar89) – 5 roubles, and “two wooden buildings with stoves” (Mo. pegeǰin90-tei qoyar modon bayiǰin ger-üd) – 30 roubles.

67The last two sections enumerate various items obtained in 1858 and 1859 (Mo. 1858 on-du nemegsen anu; 1859 on-du nemegsen inu).

68The document is testified to by the abbot of the datsan who made а corresponding remark at the end of the document with his own hand – gerčilegsen sergetü čavang-u.

The property inventory of the Aginskii datsan

  • 91 Aginskii datsan was founded in 1811. Like the majority of other Buryat Buddhist monasteries, at the (...)
  • 92 Here and in the majority of cases in this source the diacritical dots for γ are missing.
  • 93 Here a special Galik sign ᠣᠸᠨ is used for o.

69The document is entitled “The exposition of the Aginskii datsan91 Dačin lhôdübling, as well as temples, buildings and kitchen built in its vicinity and various items kept inside them such as ‘the three supports’ and offering utensils” (Mo. aγuyin92 dačin lhô93dübling dačang kiged tegünü dergede bayiγuluγsan süm-e ger ǰiγag ba tegün dotorki γurban sitügen kiged takil-un kereg ten terigüten-ü ilerkei). The inventory dates from the 31st December 1860 (Mo. 1860 on-u diqabri-yin 31-ü edür-e).

70The text of the document is organised in a table. The entries have uninterrupted sequence numbers from one to one hundred and twenty-nine, which are written down in Tibetan numerals. The thematic sections of the inventory are indicated by the subheadings inserted between the entries; the document includes a separate row in which the monetary values (Mo. üne) of the enumerated objects are given in Tibetan numerals.

  • 94 From Russian kirpich – “brick”.
  • 95 Tib. dung phyur.
  • 96 Here a special Galik sign for the Sanskrit is used.
  • 97 See previous footnote.

71The main heading of the table reads “the names of the datsan and temples, deity-images, religious text, offering implements and other objects” (Mo. dačang süm-e burqan nom takil-un ed terigüten-ü neres inu). The first subheading pertains to the entire document and reads “from the state of affairs actually remaining at the end of 1859” (Mo. 1859 on-u segül-dü niγur deger-e üldeǰü bayiγsan-ača). The next subheading is marked with the numeral “1” and refers to the “section of the datsan and other buildings” (Mo. dačang terigüten barilγ-a-yin ayimaγ). It includes nine entries, among which are “one datsan called Aγuyin dačin lhôdübling, built from stones and bricks” (Mo. aγuyin dačin lhôdübling kemekü čilaγu kerpiiče94-ber bariγsan 1 dačang) – 13 714 roubles 28,5 kopecks; “five wooden temples” (Mo. modon-iyar bariγsan süm-e) of the deities such as Maitreya (Mo. maidari) – 15 roubles, Amitāyus (Mo. ayusi) – 30 roubles, Bhaiṣajyaguru (Mo. otasi) – 15 roubles, Sarvavid-Vairocana (Mo. günrig) – 20 roubles, and of “the one hundred million mantras prayer-wheel” (Mo. dongšur95 maṇ96-i-yin kürdü) – 182 roubles 86 kopecks; “a wooden fence surrounding all the buildings” (Mo. ede bügüdeyin γadaγur modobar bariγsan küriy-e) – 40 roubles; “one wooden building storing eternal mantras” (Mo. müngke maṇ97-i quradaγ nige modon bayising ger) – 100 roubles; and “one wooden kitchen together with a barn” (Mo. modobar kigsen nige ǰiqang ambar-luγ-a selte) – 71 roubles 42 kopecks.

72The next subheading – “of the three supports placed inside the big datsan” (Mo. yeke dačang dotor-a bayiγuluγsan γurban sitügen-eče) – is marked with the numeral “2”. It entitles the section which includes four subsections labelled with the following subheadings: “the section of the physical support” (Mo. bey-e-yin sitügen-ü ayimaγ), “the section of the verbal support” (Mo. ǰarliγ-un sitügen-ü ayimaγ), “the wooden printing blocks of religious texts” (Mo. sudur-un modon bar-ud) and “the section of the spiritual support” (Mo. sedkil-ün sitügen-ü ayimaγ). The first of these subsections lists the deity-images, such as “gilded” (Mo. sergü) statuettes, statuettes “made of copper” (Mo. ǰes-iyer bütügegsen) and “painted thangkas” (Mo. sirdemel körög). The size of the statuettes is indicated in Mongolian units of length such as toqoi (an ell), tüge (a big span) and sügim (a span) (Dondokova 2003, pp. 9, 14-15). The size of the thangkas is only defined as “big” (Mo. yeke) or “small” (Mo. baγ-a).

  • 98 A special Galik sign \ is used for g in the initial position.
  • 99 Tib. kun dga’ ra ba. In Buryatia, this term has been used to name an altar in the form of a wooden (...)
  • 100 Tib. brgyad stong pa.

73The second subsection contains entries describing religious texts, such as “one hundred and one volumes of the Tibetan hand-written Kanjur together with a cabinet and a table” (Mo. bičimel töbed g98angǰur 101 boti güngaraba99 ba sirege-luγ-a selte) – 1 442 roubles 86 kopecks, “sixteen volumes of the xylographic Tibetan Prajñāpāramitāsūtra” (Mo. darumal töbed yüm 16 boti) – 137 roubles 15 kopecks, “twelve volumes of the xylographic Mongolian Prajñāpāramitāsūtra” (Mo. darumal mongγol yüm 12 boti) – 102 roubles 86 kopecks, “one volume of the Tibetan Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitāsūtra written alternately in gold and silver” (Mo. altan möngö-ber alaγlaǰu bičigsen ǰidtongba100 töbed 1 boti) – 114 roubles 30 kopecks, “one volume of the xylographical Tibetan Suvarṇaprabhāsasūtra (Mo. darumal altan gerel 1 boti töbed) – 3 roubles, “one volume of ‘The hundred thousand songs of Mi la ras pa in Tibetan” (Mo. darumal töbed boγda milarayiba-yin gürbum 1 boti) – 6 roubles 50 kopecks and others. The texts are characterised as “hand-written” or “printed” (Mo. bičimel; darumal), being composed “in Tibetan” or “in Mongolian” (Mo. töbed; mongγol). The number of volumes comprising a treatise or a collection of texts is indicated for every entry.

74The third subsection enumerating wooden printing blocks includes three entries. The fourth subsection which deals with “the spiritual support” also lists only three items: “a one ell-high gilded copper stupa of the Great Awakening of the Buddha Śākyamuni” (Mo. 1 toqoi kemǰiy-e-tei ǰes deger-e altalaǰu kigsen šigimuni-yin maaha-a bodi-yin suburγ-a) – 114 roubles 28,5 kopecks, “an image of the Beg tse tutelary deity” (Mo. begǰi-yin tügden) – 40 roubles, and “a two-part mould for a big clay figure” (Mo. 2 keseg yeke sača-yin keb) – 13 roubles 25 kopecks.

  • 101 To accept an offering, about a spirit (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001b, p. 29).

75The next subheading indicated with the numeral “three” reads “from the offering utensils kept inside the datsan” (Mo. dačan dotorki takil-un kereg-ten-eče). It entitles the section divided into five subsections by the following subheadings: “the section of the decorations” (Mo. čimeg-ün ayimaγ), “the section of music and entertainment” (Mo. kögǰim čenggilgen-ü ayimaγ), “the section of offering bowls and other containers” (Mo. čügüče terigüten saba-yin ayimaγ), “utensils for ablutions and mandala offerings” (Mo. ukiyal ba maṇdal ergükü-yin kereg-ten) and “utensils for the accepting of an offering” (Mo. dalalγ-a abqu101-yin kereg-ten).

76The next nine entries regard sitting furniture and kitchen equipment and are introduced by the following subheadings: “kinds of chairs and sitting mats” (Mo. sirege debsger-ün ǰüil) and “cooking utensils belonging to the kitchen” (Mo. ǰiγang-dur qariy-a-tai idegen-ü kereg-ten).

  • 102 Here a special Galik sign for the Sanskrit is used.

77The third and second to last sections of the inventory include entries describing the objects kept in the subordinate temple under the subheadings “the three supports and offering utensils placed in the house of the eternal mantras” (Mo. müngke ma-a ni-yin bayising-du bayiγuluγsan γurban sitüged bolon takil-un kereg-ten) and “food-related utensils belonging to the house of the eternal mantras” (Mo. müngke maṇ102i-du qariy-a-tai idegen-ü kereg-ten).

  • 103 A variant reading of mese – “sword; any cold weapon” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 2006) – here given in a p (...)

78The last section of the text lists equipment used for the guarding of the datsan and is entitled “cold weapon used by the watchmen of the datsan” (Mo. dačang-un qaraγulǰin-du kereglegsen mečüs103).

79The inventory ends with a fifteen-entry list of objects offered to the datsan by the parishioners during 1860 (Mo. ene bayiγči 1860 on dotor-a süsüg-tenü ergül-iyer nemeγsen inu).

80The document is testified and signed by the abbot of the datsan Jigmed Tegülder-ün (Mo. gerečilegsen sirege-tü ǰigmed tegülder-ün).

The property inventory of the Ol’honskii datsan

  • 104 Ol’honskii datsan founded in 1823 was one of the Buddhist monasteries of the Western (Irkutsk) Bury (...)

81The inventory has two titles. The first is written in the middle of the recto side of the first folio of the document. It reads “The exposition of the names and monetary values of the Ol’honskii datsan104, deity-images, religious texts and other objects kept inside it, and its outside buildings” (Mo. olqon-u dačang kiged tegün dotorki burqan nom terigüten-ü ba γadaγatu barilγad ner-e üneyin čeng ilerkei). The second title is the first entry of the table, which constitutes the main body of the document. It reads “The exposition of the monetary values and names of the Ol’honskii datsan of the Irkutsk district of the Transbaikal region, deity-images, religious texts, offering utensils and other objects placed inside it, and its outside buildings and other constructions” (Mo. ǰabayiγalski oblasta-yin irču-a-yin ökürüg-ün olqon-u dačang ba tegün dotor-a bayiγuluγsan burqan nom takil-un keregsel bolon γadaγatu barilγad terigüten-ü čeng ner-e üne-yin ilerkei). The inventory dates from the 15th December 1873 (Mo. 1873 on-u diγabri-yin 15 edür-e bičigdegsen amui).

  • 105 Here a special Galik sign for ph is used.
  • 106 Tib. gan ji ra; Skt. gañja – “treasury, jewel room” (Monier-Williams 1974, p. 342). This is a decor (...)

82The inventory is written in tabular form. Its entries have an uninterrupted sequence of numbers from one to seventy, which are given in a separate row in the Tibetan numerals. The objects listed by the document are not divided into thematic sections. There is only one subheading, which follows the first entry of the table after the title-entry, which reads “the wooden datsan of Ol’hon called Rabdančoyinphiling with a six span-high ganǰir-top” (Mo. olqon-u rabdančoyinph105iling neretü modobar bariγsan dačang 6 sügim ganǰir-a106 selte) – 1 800 roubles. The subheading reads “the supports, offering utensils and other objects placed inside it” (Mo. tegün dotor-a bayiγuluγsan sitügen ba takil-un keregten terigüten).

83The document includes two separate rows in which the monetary values (Mo. čeng) of the enumerated objects are given in the Tibetan numerals.

  • 107 Among the deity-images listed by the document are, for example, “a two ell-high gilded Buddha Śākya (...)
  • 108 An obsolete Russian unit of length which equalled 4,4 cm (Ozhegov & Shvedova 2006, p. 76).

84The entries from two to nineteen list statuettes of the Buddhist deities, mainly gilded ones107. All the descriptions include information about the size of the items which is indicated in Mongolian units of length such as toqoi, sügim and tüge, and a Russian unit vershok108 (Mo. brišoγ).

  • 109 Tib. drag ched. Here d in the final position is written down with the sign used in the Classical Mo (...)

85The entries from twenty to twenty-two list offering tables dedicated to various purposes: “two big painted offering tables with carving” (Mo. 2 yeke seyilbüri-tei takil-un sirdemel siregen) – 30 roubles; “a table with three sections for gilded deity-images” (Mo. sergü burqad-un 3 sentei siregen) – 45 roubles; and “a table for the wrathful deity-images” (Mo. doγčid109-un siregen) – 3 roubles.

  • 110 Here a special Galik sign is used for p. 

86The entries from twenty-three to forty-one enumerate offering utensils and containers such as “offering bowls” (Mo. čügüče), “silver-plated seven treasures and eight offerings” (Mo. möngölöγsen 7 erdeni 8 takil), “censer” (Mo. boyip110oor), “mirrors” (Mo. toli), “silver-plated ritual vases” (Mo. möngölöγsen bumba) and others as well as a standard set of musical instruments.

  • 111 A special Galik sign is used here for j.
  • 112 A special Galik sign is used here for k.

87The entries from forty-two to fifty-four describe “painted deity-images” (Mo. deleg burqan) such as “eight big thangkas of the Buddha” (Mo. burqan baγši-yin 8 yeke deleg burqan) – 130 roubles, “one big thangka of Mañjuśrī” (Mo. manj111usiri 1 yeke deleg) – 15 roubles, “two middle-size thangkas of Avalokiteśvara” (Mo. 2 ariy-a balu-a dumda deleg-üd) – 10 roubles, “nine thangkas of various protector-deities such as Vajrapāṇi and Mahākāla (Mo. včir vani maqak112 ala terigüten qangγal burqad 9 deleg) – 20 roubles, and others. The size of the images is not described in any units of length but only characterised as “big” (Mo. yeke), “middle-size” (Mo. dumda) or “small” (Mo. baγ-a).

88The next nine entries present decorations such as labari, badan, ǰalcan, “cotton cloth-covering for pillars” (Mo. baγan-a-yin bös buriyesü) and other textile items such as “seatback pillows with silk covering” (Mo. mangnuγ buriyesü-tei tüsilge), “bench sitting mats” (Mo. ǰingdan-u debisker) or “baize and cotton sitting pillows” (Mo. čеmbе ba bös olboγ).

  • 113 This might be an incorrect reading of neyite – “together, jointly, in total” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 6 (...)

89The entries from sixty-four to sixty-eight present the descriptions of religious texts such as “the one hundred and eight volumes of the Kanjur texts” (Mo. gangǰur nom-ud 108 boti nom), “all the Prajñāpāramitā texts together with two volumes of Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitāsūtra – twenty-two volumes” (Mo. yüm niti113 2 ǰidtogba qamtu 22 boti nom-ud), “one volume of the xylographical Suvarṇaprabhāsasūtra in Tibetan” (Mo. 1 altan gerel töbed darumar), “the Lhun grub (Tib.) text in Mongolian” (Mo. 1 mongγol lhantab nom), “service prayers, and other short texts” (Mo. qural-un ungsilγ-a-yin ba busu ču baγ-a nom-ud).

  • 114 Here a special Galik sign for the Sanskrit is used.

90The last two entries of the main table regard “the prayer-wheel of one hundred million mantras together with its temple” (Mo. doγǰuur ma-a ṇ114i-yin kürdü süm-e-tei qamtu) – 150 roubles, as well as “outside buildings and the surrounding fence” (Mo. γadaγatu barilγad qarsi küriy-e) – 100 roubles.

91The additional three entries put outside the main table list “one wooden building of the kitchen with a barn” (Mo. 1 modon ǰiγang ambar luγ-a selte) – 75 roubles, and cooking utensils kept inside it such as “three big and small cast-iron pots with two metal trivets” (Mo. yeke baγ-a širemün 3 toγu-a 2 temür tulγ-a qamtu) – 30 roubles, and “three metal ladles together with four brass kettles and three wooden chests” (Mo. γurban temür sinaγ-a ba 4 γaulin dömbö 3 modon abdar-a selte) – 15 roubles.

92The verso side of the last folio of the inventory provides additional information about the new acquisitions made in 1873 after the articles mentioned in the inventory had already been registered (Mo. 1873 on dotor-a deger-e ilerkeyilegsen-eče qoin-a nemegsen anu).

  • 115 Ru. starosta – “warden, elder”.

93A remark at the end of the text says that “the inventory was witnessed by the abbot of the datsan Balsang-un (Mo. edeger-i degegši ilerkeyilečü gerečilegsen širegetü-yin tusiyal-tu balsang-un). The inventory is signed by the temple warden Ananda Galsang-u (Mo. süme-yin starosta115 ananda γalsang-u).

The property inventory of the Barguzinskii datsan

  • 116 Barguzinskii datsan was founded in 1818. Its parish was the entire region inhabited by the Erihit f (...)
  • 117 A variant of the Russian word vedomost’ meaning “list, record, register”.
  • 118 The diacritical dots for γ in this document are used irregularly.

94The inventory has the following title: “A report. The names and monetary values of various objects kept in the Barguzinskii datsan116 were exposed and written down” (Mo. veyidomosta117| barγ118uǰin-u dačang-un dotorki yaγumas-un ner-e ba čeng ber ni ilerkeyilen bečigdebei). The document dates back to 1873, without further details on month and day provided. The main table which constitutes the inventory has four columns: the first contains the names of the items, the second one “the number of these items kept in the datsan” (Mo. yaγumas-un toγ-a anu), and the third and fourth their monetary values. The numbers in the second, third and fourth columns are written down in the Tibetan numerals. The entries of the list are not numbered. The table has no divisions into thematic sections.

  • 119 A variant reading of küǰi – “incense smoking stick or candle” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 2619). Here, the (...)
  • 120 The list includes images such as “the big gilded copper image of the Medicine Buddha” (Mo. yeke ser (...)

95The first entry of the inventory describes the main building of the datsan (Mo. barγuǰin-u dačang-un γadaγadu yeke barilγ-a) valued at 300 roubles. The next ten entries enumerate deity-images in the form of statuettes made of various materials such as “gilded copper images” (Mo. serge ǰes-iyer kigsen altalaγsan), “gold-painted clay images” (Mo. sibar-bar kigsen alta türkigsen) or “gilded images made of incense-paste” (Mo. küči119-ber kigsen altalaγsan)120.

  • 121 A variant of the Russian holst – “canvas”.

96The next eleven entries enumerate numerous painted deity-images produced in different techniques such as “painting on canvas” (Mo. qolsta121 deger-e ǰiruγsan) and “printing on cotton cloth” (Mo. bös deger-e daruγsan). The size of these images is indicated using Russian units of length such as arshin (Mo. arsim) and vershok (Mo. bersoγ).

  • 122 “Table of content, index” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001c, p. 211).

97The document includes only two entries listing religious texts: “a hand-written Kanjur – the treatises of the Great Vehicle all completed with wrappers, indexes and covering wooden plates” (Mo. bečemel γangǰiur yeke kölgen nom-ud bügüde ǰingči tobyoγ122 qabtusu-tai tegüs-iyer niyte) – one hundred and four volumes valued at 1 600 roubles, and “the sixteen volumes of the Prajñāpāramitā text, together with separate volumes of the gZungs bsdus collection and the Suvarṇaprabhāsasūtra” (Mo. 16 boti yüm kemekü nom tusaγar sungdui altan gerel nom niyte) valued at 96 roubles.

  • 123 Or pangsa – “kind of silk taffeta, foulard” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 1268).

98Two long entries are devoted to the description of the datsan’s interior textile decorations such as qadaγ, ǰilsang, labari, kiib, badan, tügdem. The description includes information about the colour of the decorations, the length of some of them as indicated in big spans (Mo. tüge) and arshins (Mo. arsim), and the type of cloth, such as silk (Mo. torγon) and foulard (Mo. pangǰa123).

  • 124 A lampad or oil lamp with a little hole in the centre in which a wick made of Stipa sibirica grass (...)
  • 125 Here and later in this entry a special Galik sign is used for p in the word par-a.
  • 126 Might be an incorrect reading of dololγa – “varnish, lacquer” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1855).

99Another long entry enumerates various ritual utensils and musical instruments, including “seventy-three small copper bowls and two oil lampads” (Mo. baγ-a üy-e-yin 73 ǰes čügüče qoyar nastu124), “two pairs of big trumpets” (Mo. qoyar p125ar-a üker büriy-e), “two pairs of thigh-bone trumpets” (Mo. qoyar par-a γangling), “two pairs of flutes” (Mo. qoyar par-a beskigür), “two gongs” (Mo. qoyar qarangγ-a), “one seashell trumpet” (Mo. nige dungγar), “three good and two broken ritual vases” (Mo. 3 sayin 2 ebderkei bumba), “two mandalas and one copper mirror” (Mo. qoyar mangdal; nige ǰes toli), “four copper teapots” (Mo. 4 ǰes ǰabiy-a), “one pair of big and two pairs of small cymbals” (Mo. 1 par-a čang; 2 par-a selning), “four bells” (Mo. 4 qongqu), “the eight offerings produced by the forging of a brass bar and the seven treasures” (Mo. γuli-bar keb-tü čokiǰu kigsen 8 takil; 7 erdeni), “one lacquer platter” and “one metal platter” (Mo. nige doolaγan126 tabaγ; nige temür tabaγ).

100The main part of the inventory ends with entries listing furniture and sitting mats.

101Three additional entries list objects kept in a small building standing separately from the main datsan.

102At the end of the inventory, the total value of the datsan’s building and the objects preserved inside it is given in silver – 4 639 roubles 70 kopecks (Mo. ene yeke dačang-un γadaγatu barilγ-a-tai kiged tegün-ü dotorki yaγumas-un čeng ni čaγan-iyar dörben mingγan ǰirγuγan ǰaγun γučin yisün tügürig dalan möngö bolbai).

103The document is signed by the abbot of the datsan. The signature is illegible.

The property inventory of the Iangazhinskii datsan

  • 127 One of the datsans of the Selenga Buryats. It was founded as a felt temple in 1825 at the source of (...)
  • 128 Here a special Galik sign is used for p.
  • 129 A variant of the Russian word opis’ meaning “inventory, register”.
  • 130 A variant of the Russian word vedomost’ meaning “list, record, register”.

104The title of the inventory reads “The register of the deity-images, religious texts and other objects kept in the Iangazhinskii datsan127 and belonging to its treasury and the report on every wooden building of the datsan” (Mo. yangγačin-u dačang-un dotorki burqan nom bolon busu ǰüil-ün ǰisa-yin sang-tu qabiy-a-tai aliba yaγumas-un oop128is129 ba dačang-un modon barilγad-un tus veyidomosti130). The document dates from the 1st January 1878 (Mo. 1878 on-a gangvari-yin 1-ü edür).

105The inventory is composed in tabular form. It consists of three columns the first of which gives the names of the listed items and the other two their value. The entries have no sequence numbers and are not divided into any thematic sections; no additional headings are included. The values are written down in Tibetan numerals.

  • 131 “The big datsan, painted, with five golden ganǰirs, the wheel of the Teaching and roe deer” (Mo. ye (...)

106The first two entries describe the main building of the datsan131 and its “four subordinate temples” (Mo. dörben baγ-a sümed). The next four entries enumerate other wooden constructions belonging to the datsan, such as “an outside fence with five gates” (Mo. γadaγur inu bayiγsan 85 üy-e qarsi 5 egüden-tei) – 125 roubles, “a barn housing the equipment used during the gyre of Maitreya ceremony” (Mo. mayidari-yin ǰingčeg noγon morin-u bayidaγ angbar) – 15 roubles, “a yurt in which food is cooked for regular services” (Mo. čaγ čaγ-un qural-tu idegen činači bayidaγ nige ger) – 10 roubles, and “a watchmen’s yurt of the datsan” (Mo. dačang-un dergedeki qaraγul-un nige ger) – 15 roubles.

107Two entries are devoted to the enumeration of the painted deity-images. They do not specify the names of the depicted deities or the exact size of the pictures which are only characterised as big (Mo. yeke deliγ) and small (Mo. baγ-a diliγ).

108The next nineteen entries refer to the statuettes of various deities. Apart from the name of the presented deity, the text provides information about the type of the images describing them as “golden statuettes” (Mo. sergüü), “small golden statuettes” (Mo. bičiqan sergüü), and big and small sculptured images (Mo. yeke/bičiqan barimal).

  • 132 Or duγar – “with a white baldachin” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001b, p. 66).
  • 133 “Chinese silk cloth, silk brocade decorated with dragon-images, flower-ornaments, etc.” (Kowalewski (...)

109The enumeration of the ritual utensils and textile decorations of the datsan includes “a big brass mandala platter” (Mo. mangdal-un yeke γuulin tabaγ) – 1 rouble 25 kopecks, “one big and two small mandalas” (Mo. nige yeke qoyar baγ-a mangdal-nud), “a shining mirror made of glass” (Mo. šil gegen toli) – 3 roubles, “four joined mirrors” (Mo. qolbotai 4 toli), “two pairs of ritual vases” (Mo. 2 par bumba) – 10 roubles, “wooden figures of the seven treasures and the eight offerings” (Mo. modon-iyar kigsen doloγan erdeni naiman takil) – 7 roubles 50 kopecks, “thirty ritual branch-bowls” (Mo. γučin üy-e čügüče) – 35 roubles, “two teapots” (Mo. qoyar ǰabuy-a) – 3 roubles 50 kopecks, “long silk ceremonial scarf” (Mo. yeke urtu torγon qadaγ) – 6 roubles, “thirty vangdan ceremonial scarves” (Mo. γučin vangdan qadaγ) – 22 roubles 50 kopecks, “a tiger skin” (Mo. nige baras-un arisu) – 15 roubles, “a victory-banner with white baldachin” (Mo. düγar132 ǰilcan) – 8 roubles, “five baldachins of which one is silk and four are cotton” (Mo. nige mangnuγ133 4 bös niyte tabun labri) – 25 roubles, and others.

  • 134 Here a special Galik sign is used for g.
  • 135 Here a special Galik sign is used for kh.
  • 136 Tib. ’Phags pa thar pa chen po phyogs su rgyas pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo.

110Religious texts listed by the document include “the Kanjur in one hundred and seven volumes” (Mo. nige ǰaγun dolon boti g134angčiur nom) valued at 1 070 roubles, as well as “two tables with carvings painted in gold on which the Kanjur is placed” (Mo. gangčiur nom-ud-un altan-tai seilemel 2 siregen) – 20 roubles; “two volumes of the Prajñāpāramitā text of which one is in Tibetan and the other is in Mongolian” (Mo. 1 töbed 1 mongγol 2 yüm) – 50 roubles; “the collected works of Tsong kha pa in forty-five volumes” (Mo. döčin tabun boti boγda ǰongkh135aba-yin sünbüm nom-ud) – 135 roubles; and “the Tanjur in two hundred and twenty-five volumes” (Mo. qoyar ǰaγun qorin tabun boti dingčiur nom-ud) – 675 roubles. According to the inventory, the datsan also possessed “wooden printing blocks of the Sutra of the Great Liberation136 in Tibetan” (Mo. töbed tarba čingboo-yin modon keb) and “wooden printing blocks of the Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitāsūtra” (Mo. dorǰi ǰidba-yin modon keb) which all together counted two hundred and seventy-two blocks (Mo. niyte 272 kesüγ bar-nud) and were valued at 104 roubles 60 kopecks.

  • 137 Here and in other cases in this document a special Galik sign is used for p in the word par.

111The inventory presents a rather long list of ritual musical instruments which comprise, however, a more or less standard set which includes “two pairs of small cymbals” (Mo. 2 bar čilin) – 14 roubles, “three seashell trumpets” (Mo. γurban dungγar) – 15 roubles, “seventeen bells” (Mo. arban dolon qongqu) – 10 roubles 20 kopecks, “five pairs of flutes” (Mo. 5 p137ar beskegür) – 7 roubles, two “gongs” (Mo. qarangγ-a) – 15 roubles, one dudarma (Mo. nige duu darm-a) – 2 roubles, “two pairs of brass trumpets” (Mo. 2 par γaulin büriy-e) – 20 roubles, “a pair of thigh-bone trumpets” (Mo. nige par γanglin) – 3 roubles, “eight double-sided hand-drums” (Mo. naiman damaru) – 80 kopecks, “eight pairs of big cymbals” (Mo. naiman par čang) – 24 roubles, and “ten drums” (Mo. arban kenggerge) – 10 roubles.

112Among the household items of non-religious nature listed by the inventory there are “ten brass pots” (Mo. 10 γuulin dongbo) – 10 roubles, “three Chinese cast-iron cauldrons with two trivets” (Mo. 3 kitad širem toγu 2 tuluγ-a-tai) – 9 roubles, “two metal ladles” (Mo. 2 temür sinaγ-a) – 50 kopecks, “one big metal mortar” (Mo. nige yeke temür oor) – 2 roubles, “one metal scales” (Mo. nige temür singnegür) – 1 rouble, “six metal platters” (Mo. ǰiruγan temür tabaγ) – 1 rouble 2 kopecks, and “two revolvers” (Mo. qoyar tasiγur buu) – 3 roubles.

113The document is not signed.

Analysing…

the language of the inventories

114Original citations from the seven inventories, which were presented above, clearly show that, although the documents are written in the so-called classical or traditional Mongolian script, the language of the texts is far from being Classical Mongolian.

115The lexis of the documents is highly heterogeneous. The terms borrowed from other languages are predominantly Tibetan and Russian in origin; most of these terms are direct phonetical borrowings adjusted to the morphological and orthographical features of the Mongolian language. The analysis of the loan-words revealed that the words of Tibetan origin are used to refer to religious objects such as deity-images, names of deities, titles of texts, ritual utensils and Buddhist musical instruments. The terms of Russian origin, in their turn, refer to pragmatical and economic matters such as the calendrical system, titles of documents, household items and outbuildings, and units of measurement.

116The orthography of the inventories is rather unstable. In many cases it conveys the colloquial pronunciation of words and peculiarities of the Buryat language. Diacritical signs are used irregularly. The diacritical mark for n is added only sporadically. The diacritical marks distinguishing γ from q are sometimes applied inversely, so that they are absent in a word containing γ and are written to mark q. Sometimes no distinction is made for the cup-shaped č and ǰ in the middle position. Special Galik signs are frequently used in loan-words to indicate various Tibetan or Sanskrit letters as well as the Russian p. The rules of vowel harmony are often broken by using ‘back’ and ‘front’ vowels in the same word. Case suffixes are often joined to the declined words. The orthography of loan-words is especially changeable and happens to be diverse for the same word, so that a certain term can have several different spelling variants even within the same document.

the structure of the inventories

117All the inventories under investigation are tabular in form. The titles of the documents denominate them with Russian bureaucratic terms such as “reports” (Mo. veyidomosti, bedamosta; Ru. vedomost’) or “registers” (Mo. oopis/obis; Ru. opis’). The titles of the inventories of the Atsaiskii, Aginskii, Ol’honskii and Iangazhinskii datsans also contain the date of the document’s composition, including the year according to the Julian calendar, the month given as a Russian word in Mongolian transliteration and the day. In three other cases only the year is indicated in the text of the documents. The titles of the inventories of the Aginskii and Tsongol’skii datsans contain both the Mongolian and Tibetan names of the datsans, whereas the Tibetan name of the Ol’honskii datsan is mentioned not in the title but in the entry describing the datsan’s main building.

118All the inventories have a similar but not identical structure. This indicates that there existed no obligatory or official form for compiling this kind of document. Except for the earliest document issued by the Atsaiskii datsan, all the inventories include columns or rows in which the values (Mo. čeng; sümge; sümγ-a; üne) of the enumerated items are given in silver (Mo. čaγan-iyar; čaγan-bar) roubles and kopecks (Mo. tügü/mönggö; tü/mö). The inventories of the Atsaiskii and Barguzinskii datsans have a separate column in which the number of items listed by each entry is indicated. In the documents pertaining to the Aginskii, Ol’honskii and Iangazhinskii datsans these numbers are provided in the texts of the entries describing the objects. For the Tsongol’skii and Kudunskii datsans no exact quantity of the enumerated items is mentioned. The inventories of the Kudunskii, Aginskii and Ol’honskii datsans include separate columns or rows containing the consecutive number for all the entries.

119The arrangement of entries comprising the inventories has similar features for all the documents under investigation. In three cases (Atsaiskii, Kudunskii and Aginskii datsans) the entries are divided into thematical sections marked by the appropriate subheadings. In the case of the Tsongol’skii datsan’s inventory, the sections are not thematical but positional – the objects are grouped and listed according to a certain building of the datsan’s complex in which they are preserved. The other three documents do not divide listed items into any sections. All the inventories, however, present a more or less stable order of introducing objects. Except for the Atsaiskii datsan’s inventory, all the texts start with entries describing the main building of the datsan or all its buildings, including smaller temples and household constructions. Whether divided into sections or not, the lists of the objects kept inside the datsans always begin with the enumeration of deity-images. When the type of an image is mentioned, sculptural images made of gilded copper or bronze, clay or incense-paste are listed first with pictorial images, painted or printed, following them. Only in the case of the Ol’honskii datsan is the enumeration of sculptural images followed by the description of ritual utensils and musical instruments, after which the list of the painted deity-images is presented. The Iangazhinskii datsan’s inventory puts pictorial images in the first place and sculptural images in the second.

120In most cases, the inventories continue with the lists of religious texts. The Ol’honskii datsan’s inventory is alone in placing religious texts in the fifth place after deity-images, musical instruments, ritual utensils and interior decorations. The items of furniture and sitting textile are normally listed after all the sacred objects and objects with direct ritual purposes. Kitchen and cooking utensils are normally placed at the end of the main list.

121Of the seven documents in question, only the Iangazhinskii datsan’s inventory does not follow this order of introducing items. Its composition is rather chaotic and the entries describing various objects are intermingled.

122As to the length and thoroughness of the texts, the Atsaiskii datsan’s inventory can be distinguished as the shortest one. The list of the deity-images of the Kudunskii datsan is the longest and, in a way, most precise. Although it doesn’t provide information about the size of the images or the material of which they were made, it devotes a separate entry to almost all the enumerated images and gives the name of a depicted deity in every entry. Other inventories, for comparison, may group several images into one entry or mention them all under the common name “painted images” (Mo. ǰirumal burqad) or “golden images” (Mo. sergüü burqad) in a single entry without specification.

123The concept of “the three supports” (Tib. rten gsum; Mo. γurban sitügen) is only used in the structure of the Aginskii datsan’s inventory. The sacred objects such as deity-images, Buddhist texts and appropriate ritual items are divided into three groups under the corresponding subheadings: “the section of the physical support of the three supports placed inside the main datsan” (Mo. yeke dačang dotor-a bayiγuluγsan γurban sitügen-eče bey-e-yin sitügen-ü ayimaγ), “the section of the verbal support” (Mo. ǰarliγ-un sitügen-ü ayimaγ), “the wooden printing blocks of the sutras” (Mo. sudur-un modon bar-ud) and “the section of the spiritual support” (Mo. sedkil-ün sitügen-ü ayimaγ). The title of this inventory also contains the term γurban sitügen, which is used to refer to the objects kept in the datsan and listed by the text. We find the term sitügen in this meaning only once more in the texts of the other six inventories. The only subheading introducing the enumeration of items stored in the Ol’honskii datsan includes it as a collective term for part of the described articles – tegün dotor-a bayiγuluγsan sitügen ba takil-un keregten terigüten.

historical reliability of the inventories

124According to the opinion of Buryat scholars, the information provided by the Buryat monasteries’ inventories is usually false or incomplete. Researchers believe that Buddhist monastic authorities in Buryatia tended to conceal the truth about the monasteries’ income and property (Bazarov 2006, p. 35; Galdanova et al. 1983, p. 68).

125Of course, at present the task of verifying the completeness of the Buryat monasteries’ inventories is unachievable. What can partly be achieved is the verification of the data presented by these documents. Some of the information may be confirmed or refuted by juxtaposing it with reports delivered by independent observers such as Russian and European scholars and state officials. Another possible method to examine the accuracy of the documents is a synchronic comparison of monetary values given by the inventories of different datsans for similar items. It is highly unlikely that the datsans had a preliminary agreement on how to falsify the details of the property reports and that all of them deceived the authorities about the value of their property in the same manner.

126Thus, for example, Pozdneev, who inspected Buryat datsans by order of the Department of Religious Affairs in 1909 and 1916, wrote in his reports that in 1909 the Tsongol’skii datsan had eleven small temples built at different times. The scholar’s list of the temples and their names coincide with the description provided by the Tsongol’skii datsan’s inventory of 1861 discussed above. It includes, thus, six clan-temples, three temples devoted to the deities such as Avalokiteśvara (Mo. aria-bala), the protective deity (Mo. saqiγulsan) and the Medicine buddha (Mo. otoši), and two temples built for the Great and Small Prayer-wheels (Bazarov 2006, pp. 32-33).

  • 138 Genin Darma Natsov (1898-1941) was a native Buryat who grew up as a monk in a Buddhist monastery an (...)
  • 139 “The elders – arhat-dsciples of the Buddha” (Das 1989, p. 752; Natsov 1998, p. 163).

127According to the information collected by Natsov138 in the 1930s, the Atsaiskii datsan had nine subordinate small temples built in the period from 1795 to 1829, namely the Śākyamuni and Ayuši (Mo.; Skt. Amitāyus) temples, the Günrig (Mo.; Tib. Kun rigs; Skt. Sarvavid-Vairocana) and Doγsid (Mo.; Tib. Drag ched) temples, the temples of the Demčog (Mo. ; Tib. bDe mchog; Skt. Cakrasaṃvara) and of the Prayer-wheel (Mo. kürde-yin), the Šaγdar (Tib. Phyag na rdo rje; Skt. Vajrapāṇi) temple, the Medicine Buddha temple and the Nayidan (Tib. gnas brtan)139 temple (Natsov 1998, pp. 21-22). Although the inventory of the datsan dated 1855 does not include the names of the small temples, it confirms their presence and number. The section “its subordinate buildings” (Mo. egünü qabiyatu barilγad) of the document starts with the entry “small temples” (Mo. baγ-a sümüd), the number of which is indicated as nine.

128As to the Aginskii datsan, the information known from the scientific literature and obtained from the official archival documents differs from the material found in the inventory of 1860 discussed above. Zhamsueva writes that at the beginning of the 19th century, the datsan had four temples beside the main building. They were the rGyud (Tib.) temple, also known as the Demčog (Tib. bDe mchog) temple, built in 1811; the Dus ’khor (Tib.; Skt. Kālacakra) or Ayuši temple also built in 1811; and the sMan bla (Tib.) and the Kun rigs (Tib.) temples both erected in 1816. According to the official documents, the small temples were rebuilt or renovated in 1895-1897 and only in 1900 was the project of the new Maitreya temple approved (Zhamsueva 2001, pp. 36-37, 42-43). A picture drawn by the inventory of 1860 is slightly different. The document says that already in 1860, the datsan had five small temples such as the Maitreya (Mo. maidari), Amitāyus (Mo. ayusi), Bhaiṣajyaguru (Mo. otasi), Sarvavid-Vairocana (Mo. günrig) temples and the temple of the Prayer-wheel containing 100 million mantras (Mo. dongšur maṇi-yin kürdü).

129It becomes clear, therefore, that the inventories under consideration may serve as additional historical sources to collect supplementary information or verify the data regarding Buryat monasteries’ immovable property that is already known from other sources.

130In the following table, the monetary values given by the inventories of different datsans for similar items are compared.

Table 2. Some sacred and secular items of the Kudunskii, Aginskii and Ol’honskii datsans given with monetary values for comparison

Name of datsan

Article

Kudunskii (1860)

Aginskii (1860)

Ol’honskii (1873)

Kanjur

2100 roubles
(one hundred and fifty volumes of a hand-written Kanjur together with cloth wrapper)

1442 roubles 86 kopecks
(one hundred and one volume of a Tibetan hand-written Kanjur together with box and table)

3300 roubles
(one hundred and eight volumes of the Kanjur)

Yum (Prajñāpāramitā texts)

90 roubles
(sixteen volumes of the Tibetan
Yum together with cloth wrapper)

137 roubles 15 kopecks
(sixteen volumes of the xylographical Tibetan
Yum)

———

Gilded deity- statuettes

100 roubles
(1 cubit-high gilded image of the Medicine Buddha)

180 roubles
(1 cubit-high gilded image of
Maitreya)

14 roubles 30 kopeckes
(1 span-high gilded image of the
Šākyamuni Buddha)

10 roubles
(1 span-high gilded image of
Amitābha)

14 roubles 29 kopecks
(1 span-high gilded image of Mi la ras pa)

20 roubles
(1 span-high gilded image of
Yamāntaka)

Musical instruments

36 roubles
(four pairs of the big
cymbals)

61 roubles 42 kopecks
(five pairs of the big
cymbals)

10 roubles
(one pair of the big cymbals)

20 roubles
(four pairs of the small cymbals)

7 roubles
(four pairs of the flutes)

26 roubles 14 kopecks
(five pairs of the flutes)

1 rouble
(five double-sided hand-drums)

4 roubles 75 kopecks
(five double-sided
hand-drums)

37 roubles
(four pairs of the small
cymbals)

30 roubles
(three pairs of the small
cymbals)

24 roubles
(three pairs of the small cymbals)

Kitchen utensils

14 roubles
(one big and two small cauldrons)

12.40 roubles
(four nine-mark cast-iron cauldrons)

30 roubles
(three big and small cast-iron cauldrons together with 2 trivets)

1 rouble 88 kopecks
(one five-mark cast-iron cauldron)

50 kopecks
(two ladles)

28 kopecks
(one metal ladle)

15 roubles
(three metal ladles, four copper teapots together with three wooden chests)

2 roubles
(five teapots)

14 roubles
(thirteen teapots made of white metal)

131It is a known fact that at the end of the 19th century, Russian scholar Pozdneev bought a hand-written Mongolian Kanjur in the city of Kalgan, Inner Mongolia. The price Pozdneev paid for the manuscript was 4 500 roubles. The monetary values of the Kanjur copies given by the Kudunskii, Aginskii and Ol’honskii datsans’ inventories, therefore, are quite realistic despite the difference between them. The descriptions of the scriptural collections provided by the documents are incomplete. The details concerning the materials used to produce these Kanjurs, the places of their origin and their physical condition are not known. They could have been elucidating for the understanding of the diversity of the prices.

  • 140 Ru. riza; also called “oklad” – thin metal covering of an icon, leaving open only the face and hand (...)

132The values of the other items, although not identical, are equivalent and reasonable. A comparison with prices of religious items used at the same period by the local Orthodox church or prices which retail merchants set for such items could be useful. Thus, for example, the attachment to the Irkutsk eparchial gazette no. 1 issued on 1 January, 1866 includes an advertisement of Mr. Okulov’s shop in Irkutsk. The gazette says that the shop offers seven vershok-high ikons of better quality in silver rizas140 and icon-cases for 95 roubles, as well as similar quality four vershok-high icons for 27 roubles. The Gospel in velvet binding with silver corners or in gilded bronze cover cost 70 roubles (IEV 1866, pp. 10-11). Another issue of the same periodical provides a description of the Dormition church (Ru. Uspenskaia tserkov’) in Irkutsk. It lists, among the most remarkable and valuable items preserved in the temple of the Dormition of the Mother of God (Ru. Hram Uspeniia Bozhiei Materi), a gilded 84th fineness-silver altar crucifix weighing 3 pounds and 18 zolotniks which is valued at 195 roubles, two gilded 84th fineness-silver crowns used during wedding services incrusted with precious stones weighing 5 pounds and 62 zolotniks which are valued at 120 roubles (IEV 1876, pp. 361-362). As regards kitchen utensils, in a short financial report published in the Irkutsk eparchial gazette in 1868, a superintendent of the Nerchinsk county religious school (Ru. Nerchinskoe duhovnoe uezdnoe uchilishche) noted that 119 roubles and 8 kopeks were spent on tin tableware and a dozen of Melchior spoons (IEV 1869, p. 92).

133Although it is not known whether the values provided by the inventories were exact to those paid for the corresponding articles or approximate evaluations, they appear to be realistic as regards both religious and household items. The only additional remark that should be made here is that some inventories are very precise in pricing the monastic property, whereas others obviously present rounded figures.

Sacred vs commodified

134The analysis of the content of the Buryat monasteries’ inventories shows that many items listed by these documents are Buddhist sacred objects; that is, the objects represent different aspects of Buddhist doctrine, embodying the Buddha himself, his words or other deities. These objects are believed to be endowed with transcendent powers and are highly venerated by the faithful people. Most of them, even if not defined as such by the documents, belong to one of the so-called “three supports” (Tib. rten gsum), by which “support” (Tib. rten) means “an aid to memory, an aide memoire or reminder of a real thing which the object stands for” (Dagyab 1977, p. 25). The first of them – “the physical support” (Tib. sku rten) – refers to the images of the Buddha, deities and saints. The second one – “the verbal support” (Tib. gsung rten) – includes all religious written works. Finally, mchod rten (Tib.; Skt. stūpa), maṇḍala and other objects directly related to religious practices belong to “the spiritual support” (Tib. thugs rten) (ibid.; Martin 1994, p. 275). Placed inside a monastery building or a Buddhist layman’s house, these objects are always treated in a special, ritualised way. They are ritually practised by people and simultaneously turned into “power objects” (Gentry 2017, pp. 7-22) which have their own intrinsic powers and ability to act and transform reality.

135Other religious articles described by the inventories but not belonging to “the three supports” such as textile decorations, musical instruments or ritual utensils, also possess profound spiritual meaning and symbolism grounded in the Buddhist mythology and philosophical doctrine. Enacted in a prescribed way during various rituals, or simply occupying their place in a monastery, they are also treated as entities that have the power to “transform beings and their surroundings” (ibid., p. 8).

136In the eyes of Buddhists, who interact with these objects, they are certainly highly valuable. This value, however, is not necessarily and only indirectly connected with their material dimension. It is, rather their efficacy at the spiritual level, sometimes the duration of their “working experience”, and their connection in whatsoever way with an eminent Buddhist personality etc. that comprise their value, which is not material or utilitarian but metaphysical.

137Without doubt, however, all these objects were initially created as commodities, understood as “any thing intended for exchange” and as “objects of economic value” (Appadurai 1986, pp. 3, 9). However, the “commodity phase” of their cultural biography was expected, ideally, to be very brief (ibid., pp. 16-17). As soon as they began to be used according to their intended purpose, that is to be consecrated, venerated, prayed to, ritually recited and used in a special, normative, canonically prescripted way during various religious services, they became de-commodified and sacralised through such ritualised activity and devotional attitude (Rambelli 2007, p 263). Normally, such objects lose their economic or monetary value after this de-commoditisation, as they are no longer expected to be exchanged, and this value becomes irrelevant for their further cultural history as it develops within the Buddhist tradition.

138In the case of the Buryat Buddhist monastic inventories, however, we can observe а collision or, better put, a combination of two traditions with a diametrically opposed attitude towards Buddhist religious objects – the Buddhist tradition itself and the Russian bureaucratic culture. The official request from the state administration to compose and annually submit property inventories, as well as the utilitarian approach of the bureaucrats to the material elements of the Buddhist monastic practice, created a situation in which the objects, which possessed the status of “sacred” in the Buddhist world, were regularly drawn back to the circle of commodities by attaching monetary value to them and putting them on a par with truly profane objects such as household buildings and utensils, weapons and livestock on the pages of the monasteries’ inventories.

139Thus, on the one hand the compilation of monastic inventories in Buryatia was ordered by state law, which automatically gave these texts the status of bureaucratic documents and made the monks describe sacred objects used in their monasteries in an uncharacteristically pragmatic manner, every time reifying their economic value. On the other hand, Buddhist culture, which the monks represented, found its reflection not only in the texts’ content but also in their form, echoing, to a certain extent, the idea of classifying religious objects according to the concept of “the three supports” – an idea which also defined the composition of the Tibetan dkar chags.

Conclusion

140The analysis of the inventories provided on the previous pages shows that the authors of the texts were familiar with the dkar chag genre as, at least in some cases, they partly followed the pattern of describing sacred items based on the division into “the three supports”. Other characteristics of the texts, however, distinctly indicate their nature as being official economic reports, which they actually were.

141The property inventories of the Buryat datsans came into being as a result of the overlap of two very distinct traditions – the Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist and the Russian bureaucratical ones. Such origins determined the specific form of these documents as regards both their content and linguistic features.

  • 141 In this respect, since 1853, when the Emperor approved the “The Statute of the Buddhist clergy of E (...)

142The historical value of the inventories, in my opinion, should not be questioned, as they represent a unique source of information which reveals to us the details of the material side of Buddhism as it was practiced in the Buryat datsans of the 19th century. It should be emphasised, of course, that the inventories list only the communal, movable and immovable, property of the datsans which nominally belonged undividedly to the datsan’s clerical community as a whole. At the same time, the documents do not include data concerning the monks’ individual belongings and their private property which Buryat law allowed them to possess (Tsibikov 1970, pp. 69-70, 77, 1992, p. 82)141. Although quantitatively the inventories may be imprecise, they certainly contribute to our knowledge of the size of various Buryat monastic complexes, the cults of specific deities and the extent to which they were practiced in Buryatia, the content of the datsans’ libraries and the development of their own book printing, and the characteristic language of the Buryat Buddhism in both its spiritual and material aspects.

143The inventories undoubtedly describe the majority of the tangible items involved in the monastic practice of Buddhism in Transbaikalia in the 19th century and may, therefore, be assessed as documents presenting the essence of Buddhist materiality for that region and time. The thoroughness with which the inventories characterise the objects is, in most cases, very low. For this reason, they are hardly helpful in tracing and writing the history of some particular pieces. Perhaps the collection and detailed comparative analysis of all of the inventories of a particular datsan, preferably presented as uninterrupted annual issues, would give a better outcome in this regard. This does not mean, however, that the inventories are useless for the composition of what Kopytoff proposed to call “the cultural biography of things” (Kopytoff 1986), especially if we avoid oversimplifying the concept by using it “as a catch-all term for everything that happens to an artefact” (Fontijn 2013, p. 192). Speaking about Kopytoff’s work, Appadurai noticed that the author described his biographical approach to objects by observing their movement “in and out of the commodity state” (Appadurai 1986, p. 13). Moreover, in the opinion of Fontijn, Kopytoff was not interested in capturing actual or specific object histories but rather in emphasising the value of a common view which a society shares in respect to what would be the right trajectory for a particular kind of object. Deviations from these trajectories might become particularly revealing for our awareness about the notions that people share regarding what is the proper treatment and path of certain things (Fontijn 2013, pp. 184-185).

144The property inventories of the Buryat datsans are themselves written evidence recording the very fact of changing, at least nominally, the artefacts’ status as regards commoditisation. They also report certain aspects of the emic attitude towards the objects they list by proposing their categorisation according to the Buddhist doctrine, for example, or applying specific language for naming them. Simultaneously, the inventories document an emically unnatural movement of some of these objects back to the commodity state.

145Considering, however, an interesting observation made by Urry, who stated that objects “can be said to demonstrate a cultural biography as they have been assembled from objects, information and images drawn from diverse cultures in a specific temporal and special order” (Urry 2000, p. 66), it might be more productive to treat an entire datsan as such a complex object that, at the tangible level, was being continuously composed of a multitude of material items. These items, the majority of which are described by the property inventories under study, were also predominantly “mobile” objects which, at particular moments of their existence, have not only travelled geographically but have also undergone shifts in their symbolical meaning and comprehension. The physical and symbolical mobility of these objects has undoubtedly affected both their own cultural trajectories and the cultural biographies of the datsans, of which they eventually became compositional elements. The Buryat datsans’ inventories, therefore, demonstrate to us the fact of the constitution of a datsan from “a complex combination of local, national and transnational components” (ibid.) and may serve as an efficient tool for investigating the originality of Buryat Buddhist material culture.

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Notes

1 I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my colleagues Jargal Badagarov, Isabelle Charleux, Karenina Kollmar-Paulenz, Krisztina Teleki and Nikolai Tsyrempilov whose valuable consultations helped me significantly to improve my research and finish this article.

2 Urga (also known under the names Örgöö, Daa Hürèè, Ih Hürèè [Mod. Mo.] and others) was the political, administrative, religious and economic centre of Outer Mongolia until 1924, when it was renamed Ulaanbaatar and became the capital of the Mongolian Peoples’ Republic. On the history and description of Urga see, for example, Pozdneev 1886, pp. 63-149; Teleki 2011, 2015.

3 In the Buryat Buddhist tradition, the entire monastic complex is defined by the word dačang (Mo.; Mod. Bur. dasan), which has been borrowed from Tibetan grwa tshang. In Tibetan, however, this term is used with a different meaning: a “school where monks are instructed in sacred literature” or a “section in a great monastery, where the monks belonging to one particular school of studies live together” (Das 1979, p. 239). In Buryatian, the term refers to both the main temple of a monastery in which the services and rituals are conducted, and to the totality of all the monastery constructions, including the residential buildings of the monks (Budazhapova 2012, p. 81).

4 The concept of agency as a capacity inherent to non-human/tangible objects is borrowed from Latour and the actor-network theory, to the development of which he made a great contribution. Latour considered action to be not just an intentional and meaningful deed of which only humans are capable, and suggested that any thing that modifies a state of affairs by making a difference is an actor (Latour 2005, p. 71). Moreover, by defining “social” as “a type of momentary association which is characterized by the way it gathers together into new shapes” (ibid., p. 65) Latour recognises the status of things as social actors “which are able to transport the action further through other modes of action, other types of forces altogether” (ibid., p. 70).

5 Kopytoff suggested the idea of attempting cultural biographies of things in connection with the process of commoditisation/de-commoditisation. In the opinion of the scholar “a culturally informed economic biography of an object would look at it as a culturally constructed entity, endowed with culturally specific meanings, and classified and reclassified into culturally constituted categories” (Kopytoff 1986, p. 68).

6 Teleki discovered and studied forty eight inventories written in Mongolian and twenty one in Tibetan (Teleki 2015, p. 186).

7 From Chinese dēng cè – “note, protocol, archive, list, register” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1566).

8 According to Martin, the three categories of things classified into “the three supports” are considered holy in Tibetan Buddhist tradition and constitute an intrinsic part of any monastery’s composition (Martin 1996, p. 504).

9 A description of the Maitreya statue of the Aginskii datsan in Buryatia may serve as an example of dkar chag composed by the Buryat monks. The text is entitled A nu byams chen gyi dkar chag rab gsal me long (Tib.). It was written in 1915 by a lama Blo brtan of the Aginskii datsan. A copy of this treatise is now kept in the Tibetan collection of the Saint Petersburg Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (former Saint Petersburg branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) under the code number B 7 813/1 (Vostrikov 2007, p. 111; 257, n. 662; p. 251). For other examples of dkar chag descriptions of sacred objects and places written by Mongolian authors see Teleki 2015, p. 183; Byambaa 2004, p. 909, no. 02 443; p. 910, no. 02 444; pp. 986-987, no. 02 641, no. 02 642, no. 02 643; pp. 1016-1017, no. 02 702, no. 02 704; pp. 1041-1043, no. 02 751-02 753, no. 02 756.

10 The treaty of Kyakhta was signed on the 21st October 1727. The treaty proclaimed eternal peace between the Chinese and the Russian Empire, and mutual willingness to live in friendship and harmony respecting and following the laws and customs of both countries. It approved the delineation of the borders between the empires determined by the treaty of Bura earlier that year, establishing the protocol of exchanging envoys and correspondence. The agreed segment of border was that from the upper course of the Argun’ river and to the Shabin Dabaga mountain pass with the boundary following along the river (Lamin 2009, p. 782).

11 Vladislavich-Raguzinskii (1669-1738) originated from a Serbian noble family settled in the Republic of Ragusa. He was a diplomat in the service of Peter I who conducted diplomatic talks with the Qing Empire in 1725-1727. These negotiations finalised by the conclusion of the treaty of Bura and Kyakhta should be counted among his main achievements as they determined the official political and economic relations between the two countries up to the middle of the 19th century.

12 The full title of the document was “The instruction issued by the ambassadorial office of the count Raguzinskii on the 27th June 1728 for the border guard Firsov and interpreter Kobei” (Ru. Instruktsiia Posol’skoi kantseliarii ot 27 iiunia 1728 g. grafa Raguzinskogo pogranichnomu dozorshchiku Firsovu i tolmachu Kobeiu) (Tsyrempilov 2013, p. 45). According to other sources, the document was issued on the 30th June 1728 (Vashkevich 1885, p. 35).

13 The document ordered that foreign Buddhist monks should not be allowed to cross the newly established border and instead to use exclusively the services of the monks who remained in Russian territory after the demarcation. The instruction also discussed the possibility of the situation whereby the current number of monks was insufficient. It suggested, in such a case, that two inquisitive boys from every clan should be chosen and sent to the chief of the clan (Bur. taiša) Lubsan, where the Buddhist monks who lived by him would teach those boys Mongolian and other subjects necessary for a Buddhist monastic (Razumov & Sosnovskii 1898, p. 130; Vashkevich 1885, pp. 35-36).

14 Damba Darzha Zaiaev was born in 1702 or 1710 to one of the Tsongol families who originated from Inner Mongolia. At the age of fourteen he started his long pilgrimage-educational journey through the most respected Buddhist educational centres of Mongolia and Tibet, including the famous sGo mang college of the ’Bras spungs monastery where he had been studying for seven years. During his stay in Tibet, Zaiaev was granted an audience by the Seventh Dalai Lama Bskal bzang rgya mtsho and the Fifth Panchen Lama Blo bzang ye shes, who gave him their blessing to propagate the teaching among the laity and grant monastic ordinations. After his return to Buryatia, he became one of the leaders of the Tsongol Buddhists, a co-founder of the stationary Hilgantuiskii datsan in his native lands (Chimitdorzhin 2010, pp. 20-29; Tsyrempilov 2013, pp. 63-68).

15 The title combines Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist terms. Thus, the element bandido is an adaptation of the Sanskrit word paṇḍita – “learned, wise, skilful” (Monier-Williams 1974, p. 580) used in the Tibetan culture also as a title “given to one who has become versed in the five sciences” (Das 1979, p. 781). The element hambo is borrowed from the Tibetan mkhan po – “the head of a particular college attached to a monastery, high priest who give vows to the junior or inferior lamas, and professor of sacred literature” (ibid., p. 179). This Tibetan term was used as an equivalent of the Sanskrit upādhyāya – “teacher, preceptor” (Monier-Williams 1974, p. 213). In Mongolia, the heads of Buddhist monasteries who supervised academic activities and performed some administrative duties bore the title of Hambo Lama (Pozdneev 1887, pp. 154-155; Miller 1959, p. 51).

16 Mihail Mihailovich Speranskii (1772-1839) – a count, an outstanding political figure of the time of the Alexander I. In 1819 he was designated for a post of the Governor General of Siberia. In 1921 when Speranskii came back to Saint Petersburg after his inspection of the region, the first Siberian Committee was created to implement reforms planned by him. In 1822 the tsar approved ten legislative acts proposed by Speranskii which changed the entire system of the Siberian administration (Belous et al. 2013, pp. 28-30).

17 Aleksandr Stepanovich Lavinskii (1776-1844) held the office of the Governor General of Eastern Siberia for eleven years – from 1822 to 1833. During this time, the Eniseisk Governorate was established as well as the Chief Directorate of Eastern Siberia, which was the central administrative body of power in Eastern Siberia from 1822 to 1887 (Belous et al. 2013, pp. 32-33).

18 The Kudunskii statute included two hundred and eighty-nine articles and determined the principles of Buryat Buddhist community administration and cooperation with the state bodies of power. Only one incomplete copy of this document comprising one hundred and forty-eight articles has survived until today. The extant part of the statute is divided into the following seven chapters: types of datsans and monasteries, about the building of new datsans; services of the datsans; the treasury of the datsans and their income; categories of monks required in every datsan; the elections of the staff monks with honorary titles, degrees, and official positions; penalties for breaking of monastic vows; about the schools of the datsans (Tsyrempilov 2013, pp. 107-108). The translation of the document from Mongolian into Russian was performed by Tsyrempilov (ibid., pp. 240-254).

19 Nikolai Nikolaevich Murav’ёv-Amurskii (1809-1881) was appointed to the post of the Governor General of Eastern Siberia in 1847 and executed this office for thirteen years. In 1849-1855 he organised the Amur expedition which prepared the incorporation of the Amur region into the Russian empire. A range of treaties concluded by him with China resolved border problems in the East of the country. Murav’ёv-Amurskii personally controlled and managed the process of colonisation and economic development of the new territories. He founded the city of Blagoveshchensk. In 1858 he concluded the treaty of Aigun with China and was granted the title of count, accompanied by the attachment of the honorary name “Amurskii” to his surname (Belous et al. 2013, pp. 40-41).

20 In 1636 Hong Taiji, a Manchu ruler, the first emperor of the Qing dynasty, established a Mongol bureau which dealt with the affairs of the subjugated Southern Mongol and Korean peoples. After two years, the office was changed into Lifanyuan or “Court of Colonial Affairs” (Manch. Tulergi golo be dasara jurgan (“Office Ruling the Outer Provinces”). With the growth of Qing, the Lifanyuan expanded its jurisdiction over the Mongols in the North (Outer Mongolia), the Turkic and Tibetan speaking peoples in the West and all other border peoples (Taveirne 2004, p. 79).

21 The paragraphs which excessively exposed the influence of the Qing code were excluded from the final version of the document after revision performed by the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Tsyrempilov 2013, p. 157).

22 According to “The statute on administration of people of a different kin” (Ru. Ustav ob upravlenii inorodtsev), which came into force in 1822, a three-level system of local administration of non-Russian citizens of Siberia was introduced. The smallest administrative unit was a “clan administration” (Ru. rodovoe upravlenie), which represented at least fifteen families and consisted of one elder and two assistants at a maximum. Several “clan administrations” were placed under the jurisdiction of a mid-level body called “native administration” (Ru. inorodnaia uprava), which consisted of a head, two elected elders and a clerk. On top of this system was the office of a “steppe duma” (Ru. stepnaia duma), which comprised a head, two “board members” (Ru. predsedateli) and a clerk with an assistant. The steppe duma reported directly to the “district administration” (Ru. okruzhnoe upravlenie), which was a local branch of the Governor General’s office in Irkutsk (Zhalsanova 2009, p. 104, p. 106).

23 “The entire body of records of an organization, family, or individual that have been created and accumulated as the result of an organic process reflecting the functions of the creator” (Society of American Archivists 1997-2021).

24 All the inventories under analysis are kept in the State Archives of the Republic of Buryatia. The fonds and file numbers indicate the location of the documents in the repositories of this archive.

25 One of the Selenga Buryats’ datsans. It was founded in 1743 on the eastern shore of the Gusinoe lake as a felt temple. Later, the datsan was moved to the mouth of the Atsa river and then to the place called Tabhar at the southern slope of the Han Hongor mountain. In 1784, the old wooden building of the datsan burned down. After the local Russian administration issued an official approval, the new building of the datsan was erected in the same year on the right bank of the Atsa river, to the south of the Batu Mandal hill. The datsan had nine subordinate temples, which were founded during the period from 1795 to 1829 (Natsov 1998, pp. 20-22).

26 In this source, in the majority of cases, d in the final position is written down with the sign used in the Classical Mongolian for d in the middle position followed by a short vertical “tail” ᡑᢇ.

27 The word mal is inserted between the lines.

28 The inventory lists the following five types of deity-images: five pieces of “gilded statuettes” (Mo. sergü burqan), five pieces of “clay statuettes” (Mo. čingsγ-a burqan), one hundred and eighty pieces of “painted thangkas” (Mo. ǰirumal burqan), thirteen pieces of “prints on textile” (Mo. bös-dü darumal), and “an image of a protective deity” (Mo. sakiγulsun-u tügden).

29 The section “religious texts” (Mo. nom-ud) includes entries such as, for example, “xylographic Prajñāpāramitā in fourteen volumes” (Mo. darumal yüm 14 boti) – one item; “hand-written Kanjur in one hundred and five volumes” (Mo. bečimel kangǰiur 105 boti) – one item; “hand-written Bhadrakalpikasūtra (Tib. ’phags pa bskal pa bzang po pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo) in two volumes” (Mo. bečimel kalsang kölge 2 boti) – one item; “the Rab gsal scriptures” (Mo. rabsal-un sudur) – two items and others.

30 The section “printing blocks of texts” (Mo. nom-ud-un keb-üd) includes six entries: “wooden printing blocks of the Tibetan Lhun grub chen po text in the process of carving” (Mo. töbed lhandab čingboyin bar seyilči bayidaγ); “wooden printing blocks of the Rab gsal collection in Tibetan” (Mo. töbed rabsal-un bar); “wooden printing blocks of the buddha Amitāyus text in Tibetan” (Mo. töbed ayusi-yin nom-un bar); “wooden printing blocks of the buddha Sarvavid-Vairocana text in Tibetan” (Mo. töbed güngrig nom-un bar); “wooden printing blocks of the Tibetan Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitāsūtra” (Mo. töbed dorǰi ǰidba-yin bar); and “wooden printing blocks of the thangka representing the stupa of Uṣṇīṣavijayā” (Mo. binčiy-a suburγan-u bar).

31 Tib. bla bre (Tucci 1980, p. 123).

32 The badan is a decoration sewed from long and wide ribbons of five colours: blue, white, red, yellow and green. The colours symbolise the five buddhas of meditation (Skt. dhyanibuddhas), that is Vairocana, Amoghasiddhi, Amitābha, Ratnasambhava and Akshobhya. The name of this decoration is borrowed from the Tibetan ba dang which has the same meaning (Pozdneev 1887, p. 100).

33 Qadaγ (Tib. kha btags) is a ceremonial scarf which is usually produced from silk or cotton cloth and dyed in yellow, black, white or purple. They are often decorated with images of various buddhas, mostly Amitāyus (Pozdneev 1887, p. 100). Vangdan (from Tibetan dbang ldan) type of qadaγ is the longest scarf that may have been up to 5 m. It is usually decorated with the symbol of the Wheel of Time (Skt. kālacakra) (ibid.; Budazhapova 2012, p. 79).

34 Tib. bkra shis. This is a type of short qadaγ which normally has 70 or 50 cm and is decorated with flower ornaments (Pozdneev 1887, pp. 100-101) or the eight auspicious symbols (Budazhapova 2012, p. 79).

35 This big round umbrella usually has 1,5 m or more in diameter. It is often made from silk (Pozdneev 1887, p. 101).

36 White silk scarf (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba. 2002, p. 465).

37 Tib. dkyil ’khor; Skt. maṇḍala.

38 Tib. me long. A metal circle produced from yellow polished copper. It is used during the services to consecrate water (Pozdneev 1887, p. 97).

39 Tib. bum pa. A ritual vessel in which consecrated water is kept. It has the form of a vase without a handle. It also has no cork. Instead, an aspergillum made of large peacock feathers is stuck into the bumba’s neck (Pozdneev 1887, pp. 97-98).

40 Tib. rdo rje dril bu; Skt. vajra ghanta.

41 Tib. da ma ru; Skt. ḍamaru.

42 Tib. sil snyan (Tucci 1988, p. 118; Beer 1999, p. 201, 229). A percussion instrument – a pair of copper round plates with a characteristic hemispheric bulge in the centre. The inner side of the plates is usually decorated with the engraving of two crossed vajras (Pozdneev 1887, p. 104).

43 Or čang; Tib. zangs. A pair of plates with a hemispheric bulge in the centre. The bulges serve as handles. The shape of the čang is similar to that of the selnin but not so flat. The difference is also in the size of the bulges which in the čang’s case are usually bigger (Pozdneev 1887, p. 104; Kowalewski 1849, p. 2078).

44 Tib. rnga. A flat drum, the frame of which is usually made from wood or bark and is dyed in red and decorated with the images of five or seven interweaved dragons. The sides of the drum are made of goat skin dressed to the quality of parchment (Pozdneev 1887, pp. 103-104).

45 Or labai; Tib. dung or dung dkar.

46 Tib. gling bu. A wind instrument, the sound of which resembles a flute. It consists of three separate parts, the middle of which is made of a solid wood or horn and the two ending parts of copper. Its length is normally a little more than half a meter (Pozdneev 1887, p. 105).

47 Tib. mdo dar ma. A percussion instrument which consists of a quadrangular wooden frame with a handle on one side. In the middle, this frame is divided by partitions into nine small squares. Small copper plates of different size are placed inside each of these squares (Pozdneev 1887, p. 105). Judging from the description provided by Pozdneev, Budazhapova (2012, p. 80) or Dondokova (2003, pp. 80, 134) it is the same instrument that Tucci mentions under the name drwa ting (Tucci 1998, pp. 118-119).

48 The seven bowls in which offerings are served on the Buddhist altar every day. They represent the “seven-branch practice” (Tib. yan lag bdun pa; Skt. saptanga) for purifying negative tendencies and accumulating merit (Beer 1999, p. 205).

49 The eight offerings which are traditionally placed on the offering table are metal statuettes representing “the white umbrella” (Mo. čaγan sikür; Tib. gdugs), “the golden fishes” (Mo. altan ǰiγasu; Tib. gser nya), “the white seashell” (Mo. čaγan labai; Tib. dung dkar), “the white lotus” (Mo. čaγan badm-a; Tib. pad ma), “the treasure vase” (Mo. bumba; Tib. gter gyi bum pa), “the endless knot” (Mo. ülǰei utasun; Tib. dpal be’u), “the victory banner” (Mo. ilaγuγsan-u čimeg; Tib. rgyal mtshan) and “the wheel” (Mo. kürde; Tib. ’khor lo) (Pozdneev 1887, pp. 86-87; Beer 1999, pp. 173-186).

50 The seven treasures are placed next to or behind the eight offerings on the offering table. They include “the precious wheel” (Mo. kürde erdeni; Tib. ’khor lo rin po che), “the precious jewel” (Mo. čindamani erdeni; Tib. yid bzhin nor bur in po che), “the precious queen” (Mo. qatun erdeni; Tib. btsun mo rin po che), “the precious minister” (Mo. tüsimel erdeni; Tib. blon po rin po che), “the precious elephant” (Mo. ǰaγan erdeni; Tib. glang po rin po che), “the precious horse” (Mo. degedü morin erdeni; Tib. tra mchog rin po che) and “the precious general” (Mo. čerig-ün noyan erdeni; Tib. dmag dpon rin po che) (Pozdneev 1887, pp. 87-89; Beer 1999, pp. 162-163).

51 In this word and in many other cases in this source, two diacritical dots are put to the left of the q sign. On the other hand, almost everywhere the diacritical dots for γ are missing.

52 Most likely the same as the Modern Buryat bagsaamzha – “assumption, rough estimation” (Cheremisov 1951, p. 80).

53 The status of clan-temples meant that these temples were built and kept at the expense of some clans, which founded them by the decision of the clan-gathering. Thus, the allowance of the clan-lamas living in the monastery, the performance of the services in the clan-temples and the maintenance of the buildings were paid by the laity of a certain clan (Zhamsueva 2001, p. 101; Bazarov 2006, pp. 32-33).

54 From Tibetan rgyags khang (Budazhapova 2012, p. 86).

55 Tib. sMan bla; Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru.

56 Tib. Chos skyong; Skt. Dharmapāla.

57 Tib. sPyan ras gzigs.

58 Although the term sergü literally means “golden image” (Tib. gser sku), I chose to translate it as “gilded image”. The reason for this is, first, the price given is too low the images of whatever size made of pure gold. Secondly, it is known that during the 19th century, the biggest metal crafting centre producing Buddhist sacred images and ritual utensils to be sold to China, Russia, Outer Mongolia, Amdo and even Central Tibet was Dolonnor of Inner Mongolia. The majority of the deity-images created there were bronze and copper statues, including gilded ones (Charleux 2010, p. 87).

59 Tib. gser sku – “a golden Buddha-image” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 1375).

60 Most likely an incorrect or variant reading of qatqulγa – “pricking, piercing, sticking” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 784).

61 A circle-mark is put to the left from the γ-sign instead of the double diacritical dot.

62 “Cloth-wrapper of a book or deity-image” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001a, p. 232).

63 Here a Galik sign is used.

64 Most likely from the Tibetan thugs dam, referring to some form of the datsan’s main tutelary deity’s visual representation. If so, however, it is not clear why a Galik sign normally applied to denote the Tibetan e is used here.

65 May refer to the ritual crown called cod pan in Tibetan. This headgear had an oval form and was covered with thin silk black threads resembling hair. At the top of the hat these threads were bundled together and crowned with a vajra. On the sides of the hat they should have hung down as one cubit-long braids. Instead of the hatband the crown had five plates depicting the five dhyanibuddhas: Vairocana, Amoghasiddhi, Amitābha, Ratnasambhava and Akshobhya (Pozdneev 1887, p. 323).

66 A special Galik sign is used for č.

67 “Fan, special arrow, winded with flax, used during offering rituals” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1634).

68 May be an incorrect reading of sang (Mo.) – “treasury, repository, store” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 1289).

69 A variant reading of jangcan – “victory banner” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001b, p. 159). Tib. rgyal mtshan.

70 Tib. tsha tsha. Religious objects made of clay including flat clay reliefs and miniature statuettes. They are produced either by stamping out with a die or by pressing from a mould and subsequently dried by sun or, less usually, baked (Dagyab 1977, p. 46; Berounský & Sklenka 2005, p. 60). A special Galik sign is used for č.

71 Tib. rgyab rten (Budazhapova 2012, p. 87). For the description of the sitting furniture and textile of the Mongolian Buddhist monasteries see Pozdneev 1887, p. 41.

72 “Quadrangular sitting pillow” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001c, p 182).

73 Kudunskii datsan was one of the oldest datsans of the Hori Buryats. It was founded in 1756 or 1758 at the southern slope of the Chelsana mountain on the Kudun river. In 1772 the building of the datsan burned down. The new building was founded at another location at the lower course of the river Mungut and was finished and consecrated in 1775 (Galdanova et al. 1983, p. 23). Three smaller temples are known to have been added to the monastic complex of the Kudunskii datsan in different years – the Medicine buddha (Mo. otosi) temple in 1775, the Amitāyus (Mo. ayusi) temple in 1807 and the prayer-wheel (Mo. kürde) temple in 1824. In 1824, the datsan was rebuilt with the official approval of the district government in Irkutsk. Yet another rebuilding of the datsan was initiated by the members of its perish in the 1880s. According to the plan approved by the Ministry of Domestic Affairs and the Governor of Eastern Siberia, the ground floor had to be a stonework with the two wooden upper floors. The construction works were completed in 1886 (Tsybenov 2011, pp. 37-38).

74 A variant of the Russian word opis’ meaning “inventory, register”.

75 A variant of the Russian word vedomost’ meaning “list, record, register”.

76 According to Asalhanova, in the Buryat tradition of deity-image production the tangkas were commonly called deleg burqan or ǰaq-q-tai burqan (Asalhanova 2015, p. 188). While the word burqan has been used in Mongolian to designate any image of the Buddha or other Buddhist deity, the etymology of the word deleg is unclear. It might have been of Tibetan origin or might well be connected to the Mongolian verb deli- meaning “to draw, to stretch” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1719) and implying that thangkas are produced by painting on a cloth stretched out and laced firmly onto a large wooden frame (Dagyab 1977, pp. 41-42).

77 Mo. ǰangči or ǰangča. Mod. Bur. zhansha – “silk wrapper for sacred books” (Cheremisov 1951, p. 247). The first meaning of the word was “mantle, cloak” (Kowalewski 1849, pp. 2241-2242).

78 This might be an incorrect or variant reading of dayisu – “tape, ribbon, cord” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001b, p. 22).

79 Here a special Galik sign ᠣᠸᠨ is used for o.

80 Tib. lam rim.

81 Here a special Galik sign ᠣᠸᠨ is used for o.

82 Tib. cho ga.

83 Tib. sMan bla’i lho sgo.

84 A wooden beam used in Buddhist monasteries to call the monks for various meetings or services. For more information on the instrument, see Sobkovyak 2015.

85 The text of the inventory gives a Mongolian phonetical version of the word, which reads pa-a ru.

86 Tib. phye ma phur ma. This decoration has a round form. It is made of eleven oblong multi-coloured pouches sewed together. The pouches are filled with fragrant herbs (Pozdneev 1887, p. 101).

87 An obsolete Russian unit of length which equalled 0,71 m (Ozhegov & Shvedova 2006, p. 30).

88 One zolotnik equalled 1/96 pound or 4,26 g (Ozhegov & Shvedova 2006, p. 232).

89 Ru. ambar – “barn”.

90 Mod. Bur. pyeèshèn – “stove” (Cheremisov 1951, p. 385).

91 Aginskii datsan was founded in 1811. Like the majority of other Buryat Buddhist monasteries, at the beginning it functioned as a felt temple. Its first stone main building was erected by Russian craftsmen without an architectural plan in 1811-1816. At different times during the 19th century, four smaller temples were added to the monastic complex of the datsan – the Ayuši (Mo.; Skt. Amitāyus) temple, the Otoši (Mo.; Skt. Bhaiṣajyaguru) temple, the Günrig (Mo.; Tib. Kun rigs rnam snang; Sanksr. Sarvavid-Vairocana) and the Demčog (Mo.; Tib. ’Khor lo bde mchog; Skt. Cakrasaṃvara) temple. Over ten years of negotiations between the parishioners of the datsan, local aristocracy and authorities and the state administration preceded the erection of the new main building of the datsan, which was finished in 1886. The school of Buddhist philosophy (Tib. mtshan nyid) was opened in the datsan in 1861. Aginskii datsan was also an important typographical centre which published the entire main corpus of textbooks for the monastic schools, grammars and Tibetan-Mongolian dictionaries (Zhamsueva 2001, pp. 35-36, 117, 123).

92 Here and in the majority of cases in this source the diacritical dots for γ are missing.

93 Here a special Galik sign ᠣᠸᠨ is used for o.

94 From Russian kirpich – “brick”.

95 Tib. dung phyur.

96 Here a special Galik sign for the Sanskrit is used.

97 See previous footnote.

98 A special Galik sign \ is used for g in the initial position.

99 Tib. kun dga’ ra ba. In Buryatia, this term has been used to name an altar in the form of a wooden cabinet with glass doors in which Buddhist deity-images and religious texts were placed (Cheremisov 1951, p. 175; Linhovoin 2014, p. 200).

100 Tib. brgyad stong pa.

101 To accept an offering, about a spirit (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001b, p. 29).

102 Here a special Galik sign for the Sanskrit is used.

103 A variant reading of mese – “sword; any cold weapon” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 2006) – here given in a plural form indicated by the suffix -s.

104 Ol’honskii datsan founded in 1823 was one of the Buddhist monasteries of the Western (Irkutsk) Buryats (Natsov 1998, p. 173).

105 Here a special Galik sign for ph is used.

106 Tib. gan ji ra; Skt. gañja – “treasury, jewel room” (Monier-Williams 1974, p. 342). This is a decoration usually installed on the top of the main temple’s roof. It has a vase-form with a high neck narrowing to the top. During the consecration of the temple the ganǰir-decoration is filled with the mantra-texts (Pozdneev 1887, p. 37).

107 Among the deity-images listed by the document are, for example, “a two ell-high gilded Buddha Śākyamuni together with his two disciples” (Mo. 2 toqoi kemǰiyetei sergü ǰuu šigemuni 2 siravang-luγ-a selte) – 840 rouble roubles, “a two ell-high gilded holy Tsong kha pa together with his two disciples” (Mo. 2 toqoi kemǰiyetei sergü boγda čongkhaba 2 siravang-tai qamtu) – 520 rouble roubles, “a one ell-high gilded Maitreya (Mo. 1 toqoi kemǰiyetei sergü mayidari) – 180 rouble roubles, “two vershok-high gilded Tārā (Mo. 2 brišoγ kemǰiy-e-tei sergü dara eke) – 8 rouble roubles, “a one span-high gilded Yamāntaka (Mo. 1 sügim kemǰiyetei sergü yamandaga burqan) – 20 rouble roubles, and others.

108 An obsolete Russian unit of length which equalled 4,4 cm (Ozhegov & Shvedova 2006, p. 76).

109 Tib. drag ched. Here d in the final position is written down with the sign used in the Classical Mongolian for d in the middle position.

110 Here a special Galik sign is used for p. 

111 A special Galik sign is used here for j.

112 A special Galik sign is used here for k.

113 This might be an incorrect reading of neyite – “together, jointly, in total” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 626).

114 Here a special Galik sign for the Sanskrit is used.

115 Ru. starosta – “warden, elder”.

116 Barguzinskii datsan was founded in 1818. Its parish was the entire region inhabited by the Erihit families in the valley of Barguzin (Galdanova et al. 1983, p. 41).

117 A variant of the Russian word vedomost’ meaning “list, record, register”.

118 The diacritical dots for γ in this document are used irregularly.

119 A variant reading of küǰi – “incense smoking stick or candle” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 2619). Here, the word means a special paste made of incense sticks, clay, Tibetan paper and glue which was used to create three-dimensional deity-images (Natsov 1998, p. 154).

120 The list includes images such as “the big gilded copper image of the Medicine Buddha” (Mo. yeke serge ǰes-iyer kigsen altalaγsan otosi sitügen) – 80 rouble roubles, “the big gilded copper image of standing Maitreya” (Mo. yeke serge ǰes-iyer kiγsen altalaγsan bosuqu mayidari sitügen) – 150 rouble roubles, “the gilded copper Tsong kha pa with two disciples” (Mo. serge ǰes-iyer kiγsen altalaγsan ǰongqoba qoyar siravang-tai) – 200 rouble roubles, “the gilded image of the Buddha Śākyamuni with two disciples, made of incense-paste” (Mo. küǰi-ber kiγsen altalaγsan sigemuni mön qoyar siravang-tai sitügen) – 80 rouble roubles, and others.

121 A variant of the Russian holst – “canvas”.

122 “Table of content, index” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001c, p. 211).

123 Or pangsa – “kind of silk taffeta, foulard” (Kowalewski 1846, p. 1268).

124 A lampad or oil lamp with a little hole in the centre in which a wick made of Stipa sibirica grass and cotton is inserted (Natsov 1998, p. 164; Budazhapova 2012, p. 77).

125 Here and later in this entry a special Galik sign is used for p in the word par-a.

126 Might be an incorrect reading of dololγa – “varnish, lacquer” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1855).

127 One of the datsans of the Selenga Buryats. It was founded as a felt temple in 1825 at the source of the Iangazhin river when ten monks separated themselves from the Zagustaiskii datsan. Later, the datsan was moved south-west to the north bank of the Selenga river where a small wooden building was erected. The famous Dashi Dorzhi Itigelov was an abbot of Iangazhinskii datsan from 1904 until 1911 when he became the Hambo Lama of the Buryat Buddhist (Natsov 1998, p. 8, p. 11; Chimitdorzhin 2010, p. 102).

128 Here a special Galik sign is used for p.

129 A variant of the Russian word opis’ meaning “inventory, register”.

130 A variant of the Russian word vedomost’ meaning “list, record, register”.

131 “The big datsan, painted, with five golden ganǰirs, the wheel of the Teaching and roe deer” (Mo. yeke dačang anu šeretei tabun altan gančar khorlo körügesü-tei qamtu) – 2 500 roubles.

132 Or duγar – “with a white baldachin” (Luvsandèndèv & Tsèdèndamba 2001b, p. 66).

133 “Chinese silk cloth, silk brocade decorated with dragon-images, flower-ornaments, etc.” (Kowalewski 1849, p. 1976).

134 Here a special Galik sign is used for g.

135 Here a special Galik sign is used for kh.

136 Tib. ’Phags pa thar pa chen po phyogs su rgyas pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo.

137 Here and in other cases in this document a special Galik sign is used for p in the word par.

138 Genin Darma Natsov (1898-1941) was a native Buryat who grew up as a monk in a Buddhist monastery and received religious education. Under the influence of the October revolution and the communist doctrine he refused from Buddhism and became a communist party atheist-activist and ethnographer-field researcher. In the 1930s, when he worked in the Anti-religious Museum in Ulan-Ude, Natsov had several business-trips to different Buryat datsans in connection with their liquidation and passing their property to the museum. During those trips he made numerous notes regarding the history of the datsans and their current state (Natsov 1998, pp. 3-4).

139 “The elders – arhat-dsciples of the Buddha” (Das 1989, p. 752; Natsov 1998, p. 163).

140 Ru. riza; also called “oklad” – thin metal covering of an icon, leaving open only the face and hand parts of the painted image (Ozhegov & Shvedova 2006, p. 449, 679).

141 In this respect, since 1853, when the Emperor approved the “The Statute of the Buddhist clergy of Eastern Siberia”, the Buryat law has contradicted the state law which proclaimed that Buddhist clergy were forbidden to have any private property (Vashkevich 1885, pp. 133-134).

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Ekaterina Sobkovyak, « When sacred turns out commodified. The property inventories of the 19th century Buddhist monasteries in Buryatia »Études mongoles et sibériennes, centrasiatiques et tibétaines [En ligne], 52 | 2021, mis en ligne le 23 décembre 2021, consulté le 17 janvier 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/emscat/5280 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/emscat.5280

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Ekaterina Sobkovyak

Ekaterina Sobkovyak holds a PhD in the field of Central Asian cultural studies and is currently affiliated with the Institute for the Science of Religion and Central Asian studies of the University of Bern, as an associated researcher. Her main area of interest, to which she has devoted a part of her thesis (Sobkovyak 2017a) and on which published several articles on (Sobkovyak 2015; Sobkovyak 2017b), is the Mongolian Buddhist monastic tradition and culture, with a special emphasis on the study of Mongolian Buddhist monastic institutions.
sobkovyak@gmail.com

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