Garuda (Tsam figure)

  • Хан Гарид / Гaрид / Хангарди / Xan Garid / Garid / Xangardi
  • Oγtarγui-dur eliyegči / Γarudi / Γaruda / Γardi
  • Khyung / mKha' lding
  • Garuḍa
  • Tsam figure
  • begin 20th century
  • Wood
  • Height: not filled / Width: not filled / Depth: not filled
  • Collection: Hans Leder, Inv. Nr.: 74711
  • Weltmuseum Wien
  • © KHM mit MVK und ÖTM
Several small wooden figures depicting expressively characters of the Tsam dance ceremony (T. ´cham), one of the most important Buddhist festivities, form an extraordinary group within the Leder collections. Twelve figures are housed in the Weltmuseum Wien (the former Museum für Völkerkunde Wien).This figure represents Garuḍa, the king of birds, who originally was an ancient Hindu sun symbol. Half vulture, half man, he lived on a diet of snakes (nāga). There are similarities between him and the mythical Himalayan Khyung, who protected the four cardinal directions. This must have appealed to the Mongolians. At its centre, their native (shamanistic) belief includes the worship of the blue sky. Garuḍa appears in the Urga-Tsam as one of the four masks which are held for the incorporations of famous shaman spirits of the past. He is identified with the mountain spirit of the holy mountain Bogd Uul in the south of Ulaanbaatar (or Urga), and after the incorporation into the Buddhistic religious system was recognised as the protector spirit of this site. Whereas in the Choijin-Lama Temple Museum in Ulaanbaatar there is a yellow mask with which a yellow garment was worn (cf. Berger 1995, Forman and Rintschen 1967), both the mask and the costume of the figure in the Weltmuseum Wien are blue; the same applies for a further Tsam figure showing Garuḍa, which is located in the Leder Collection in Budapest (inv. no. 55899). Garuḍa is represented in a dancing position with long horns, bull’s ears, a vulture's beak and the lotus as his crown. (Lang 2013: 71).
© M.-K. Lang
Garuda (Tsam figure)
/ Mongolia / begin 20th century / Weltmuseum Wien / © KHM mit MVK und ÖTM