Mongolian life in 1900s
- By Dashmaa D -
- Mar 01,2023
Balduu Sharav, the founder of modern Mongolian fine art, depicted the “Mongolian life in one day” painting between 1911 and 1913. This work brims over with the joyful richness and funny details of the daily life of the Mongolians from the Khangai mountainous landscape to the Gobi Desert. He was born in 1869 and died in 1939. B.Sharav’s road to becoming a famous artist is his uncle’s influence. His uncle, who was not only a monk but also had advanced artistic skills painting deities in the “Ariin khuree” monastery. At the age of five, B.Sharav went to the monastery to be with his uncle and studied painting until 17 years old.
The monastery was located 10 kilometers from the province where he used to live and it was at the intersection of the Silk Road, which is in the direction of the west from China. Tourists, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese, tourists passed through this area. There, Sharav used to paint tourist portraits as well. Later Denmark scholar who studies the Altai mentioned in his book his traveling to Asia and Mongolia through the monastery, saying that the boy who painted portraits of people later became a great artist. He was getting popular in his native land when he was 17, then went to the city when he was 22 and continued learning from another painter named Gendendamba. Sharav, who had an innate talent for painting, soon learned the art of painting, became famous in the city, and painted at the request of the Bogd Khaan.
When Bogd Khaan and Queen Dondogdulam saw a painting of “Mongolian life in one day” for the first time, it was depicting all sorts of things like festivals, funerals, felt making, agriculture, and animal breeding, they even see people make love. Bogd Khaan said “I can see some humor in your painting so I will nickname you “Marzan-humorous Sharav”, the queen said that “the painting is beautiful so I will name this “Mongolian life in one day”. Thus, the nickname “Marzan Sharav- Humorous Sharav” and “Mongolian life in one day” became known as two inseparable names. The painting is like a naturalistic snapshot of more than three hundred characters engaged in common activities from birth to death that people living in Mongolia in the 20th century. It was painted with mineral pigment paints on cloth, there is no vanishing point or perspective so regardless of distance, and everything is shown in the same proportion.
In this painting, when the mother of a four-year-old boy was pouring tea into the pot, some dripped on the cowhide rug on the floor, the boy observed the hot tea that is making an interesting pattern. Since then, cowhide became his eternal board. As he was growing up, one day, he visited a party in a nobleman’s house, and he was watching the scene and how the adults were acting. He drew on the sand what he saw. Drunken people fall off their horses and vomit, some of them got drunk and some chase after a woman. It is believed all the scenes that he saw there, were later to become one of the most famous paintings depicting Mongolian life called “Mongolian life in one day”.
“Mongolian life in one day”, an original painting was restored by the Soviet Union in 1970-1980. In 1995, it was registered as a unique heritage and valued at 100 million MNT. Visitors must see these art masterpieces displayed at the “Zanabazar fine art museum” located on Tourist Street.