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Medical Illustrations of the Atsagat Manba Datsan by Dr. Natalia Bolsokhoeva
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In September, 2011 at the conference in Tallinn I talked about a contribution of eminent traditional Tibetan doctor, a remarkable scholar in the field of Tibetan science of healing D. Yendonov (1870 -1937?) to the composition of the textbook, guidance, dictionary and his life.
His works played the most important role in the educational process at the well-known Atsagat manba datshang.
In 1913 this medical school was established on the initiative of the great Buryat authorities Agvan Dorzhiev (1853/54 - 1938) and Khampo Lama (since 1895 г. until 1911 г.) and the most outstanding Buryat an emchi - lama Ch. - D. Yiroltuyev (1843 - 1918).
It was built on the river side Shuluuta close to the spur of the mountains Sagaan Under in 1825. D. Yendonov was the director of this prestigious [[Atsagat medical college}} since 1926 until its closing in 1936.
Besides he formed a creative group for making copy of the plates of the since 1926 kept at the Atsagat manba datsan.
Our many years research proofed that there is reason to considerate the separated plates in a varying degree as rough copies of the “Atlas of Tibetan medicine”, as on the several plates the remarks were made”, a copy of the drawings of the “Atlas of Tibetan medicine”.
In this connection we began a complicated work on the identification of the contents of the Atsagat illustrations with corresponding visual ranges on the canvas of the “Atlas of Tibetan medicine” from the History Museum of Buryatia named after M. N. Khangalov collection (further Museum).
In the valuable collection of the Museum there are 65 plates of different formats of medical contain with a separated chapters on Tibetan medicine depicting by director and students of the Atsagat medical faculty.
They painted on separate album sheets, on whatman paper and primed canvas.
They represented an illustrated material, subordinated mainly to the subject and structure of some paragraphs, chapters, and volumes of classical Tibetan medical treatise “Gyushi” (rgyud bzhi) and its comprehensive commentary ‘Lapis Lazuli’ (vaidurya sngon po, Vaidurya - onbo).
There is some analogy with the first plate of the “Atlas of Tibetan medicine”.
The Healing Buddha is depicted in the medicinal city Sudarshana (Tib. lta na sdug) with the attributes of the Buddha sitting up on a throne made of wish-fulfilling jewels. In the center of the square city with four gates is located the Medicine Buddha’s palace.
His right hand holds the myrobalan chebula fruit (Tib. a ru ra, Latin Terminalia chebula Retz.), panacea for all diseases caused by disorder of three physiological energies (Sanskrit dosha Tib. rlung - wind, mkhris pa - bile and bad-kan - phlegm).
The medical pictures of Buryat specialists are distinguished by their peculiarities and are reflected a definite stage of scientific illustration in the creative activity of Buryat artists possessing by the art of easel painting. The authorship of some plates is belonged to D. Yendonov as it is mentioned: “The director Yendonov painted”.
On the back side there are the stamps of the Buryat - Mongolian Antireligious Museum (opened on the 8th of November of 1937 in Ulan-Ude), its address and obviously the incoming number assigned by the Museum.
In the contemporary Museum’s inventory books the plates are sequentially numbered from 1 to 65. On the facial sides of the mostly all 65 plates there is a big round seal of Atsagat Tibetan Medical Committee and signature of director Yendonov.
This fact says that the student’s creations were appreciated by the director of the school. He knew a professional level of each student and carried the high responsibility to the theoretical and practical knowledge, which the students received under the guidance of the knowledgeable teachers during a long-term training.
Student’s works in a remarkable degree connect with the practical chapters of Tibetan science of healing, which are necessary to know for the future professional traditional doctors in their daily practice.
Many anatomical plates contain the drawings of topography of internal organs on modular grid where each square cell is a module of measurement.
These treatments include cauterization, bloodletting, pricking by needle.
On the anatomical plates the points for thermal treatments in the forms of cauterization a warming up are pictured as the most effective treatment methods for many illnesses including serious chronic ones.
In addition, the plates illustrate the bloodletting vessels and points of pricking by the needle.
Our deep study show, on the plates there are three unpaired vessels fontanel, nose’s vessel, breast’s vessel, and bloodletting vessels varying from the kind of pathology.
Some treatments are held by hot / red-hot needle, while the other by cold-needle.
The annotations and captions under drawings lacked the unification that is a short - coming of the work. Most often the images of man’s figures are not proportional and have a contour character.
The images of surgical instruments used in practical Tibetan medicine are the important component of the anatomical plates. Presented illustrations in the corpus of the Atsagat paintings say that Buryat physicians have not much ones.
On the Atsagat plate only 43 instruments painted. While in the plate 34 of the “Atlas of Tibetan Medicine” there are 99 surgical instruments which were used by traditional doctors (emchis) throughout Tibet.
1 – the instruments for the survey,
2 - forceps,
3 – lancets,
4- thur ma or needles and
5 – auxiliary instruments.
The characteristics and a detailed description of the instruments are given in the twenty second chapter of “Tantra of Explanation” of the second volume of “Gyushi” and in its profound commentary “Vaidurya - onbo”. Such classification is accepted in the plate 34 of the set of the “Atlas of Tibetan Medicine” as well.
Buryat emchis in difference from their Tibetan predecessors used the probes for the checking up the wounds on legs and arms, the probes for the investigation of the purulent abscesses: forceps for the extraction foreign bodies from bones, blood vessels, tendons.
Peculiar lancets were needed for bloodletting; hollow needles for the extraction of pus and liquids from the certain parts of the body, the bent hooks for the deleting of the pellicle of eyes if a person suffer from wall-eye, and the bent rods for cauterization.
Each Buryat healer carried the needed surgical instruments with him in a special slipcase.
Instruments were made from the alloy of red cooper and gold, and a durable high quality steel as well.
Buryat skilled masters as their Tibetan colleagues made the instruments strictly according to the sizes presented in Tibetan practical guidance’s. The sizes come from particular canon that each master must follow.
Some of them were exhibited at the exhibition, which was opened on August 10th of 1998 and worked during one year at the Museum in Ulan-Ude.
The paintings presenting the “Tree of Medicine” constitute the second group.
The scheme of the “Tree of Medicine” may be considered as the alternative of “the Universal Tree” – “Scambha”, translated from Sanskrit as “reliance”. “Scambha” symbolizes sustainable links between past and future, the world of gods and human beings.
The illustrated structural elements of the “Tree of Medicine” represented a detailed schematic description of theory and practice of Tibetan medical system in the form of the three trees with 9 trunks, 47 branches and 224 leaves.
Based on the “Gyushi” we can say that half of the illnesses known to the Tibetan physicians were attributed to the effect of harmful deities and spirits, as karmic punishment violating various taboos and rules of religious morality.
It was important to establish precisely which demonic forces were harming the patient’s health in order to eliminate their injurious influence by means of rituals of propitiation, elimination and suppression”
Only three plates are belonged to the forth group.
Two of them are reasonable to classify as a kind of abstracts of the students of the Atsagat manba datsan representing the theses of a number of the chapters, paragraphs, fragments from educational supplies on the all course of Tibetan medical science.
The rules working out by D. Yendonov is written in old Mongolian. The traditional Tibetan physician has recommended keeping strictly the rules for taking curative baths and pharmacy’s work, when specialists involve in the composition and preparation of multi - component Tibetan drugs.
These rules were concerned not only to the students of Atsagat medical school, but to the people, who used to come to get the healing springs. Each person must keep strictly to the established order and keep clean the sacred territory.
The Yendonov’s rules did not lose its actuality in the globalization’s époque. The contemporary lamas of the Atsagat datsan do much not only for conservation of the curative springs but the maintenance of needed rules. They take care of this powerful area and give instruction to young generation.
Besides the works of khuvaraks of the Atsagat medical school in the Museum’s collection there is a set of 11 one formatted (62х69,4 cm) plates depicted by Buryat artists with mineral colors on the primed canvas.
The technique of the preparing of primed canvas consists of the following: “an artist makes a weak solution of glue for the front side of canvas for not to let the paint soak into tissue as the picture must be intensive on colors.
Then the artist made several layers of ground – glue mixed with chalk, gypsum or kaolin.
When the priming was dried up and ready, it was polished for the smooth solid and flexible for the keeping up the layer of colors. Sometimes they made a primed canvas not only on the front side but the back side also”.
Proceeding from the inscriptions on the certain plates it may conclude that they were created between of 1929-1930. However historical sources provide no one opinion about the appearance of the set, consisting of 65 plates.
It is difficult to say when the plates were given to the Museum’s collection as we don’t have any information.
There are no the living witnesses who could give reliable facts about it.
Possibly, the Atsagat paintings entered the Antireligious Museum’s collection in 1937 when Zh.Zh. Zhabon (1899-1971) was working as a member of the Republican Organization of the Society of the Militant Godless and transferred to the possession to the Museum the treasure of the Tibetan medieval culture the “Atlas of Tibetan Medicine”.
In this connection according to the information of the Museum’s staff S.V. Bardaleyeva the Xerox copies of 20 plates in original size which have been painted by the students of the Atsagat medical school were given to the datsan.
The finest work on framing the plates under the glass was held by the artist V.P. Askhayev.
The depictions of the Atsagat medical school, painted at the thirties of last century have now an elegant appearance. During the last several years the Museum step by step has been passed the copies of other 45 plates.
Thanks to the Museum’s staff the inhabitants of the Buryat capital and its guests have a great possibility to make aware with the drawings of Tibetan medical culture created by Buryat skilled masters and traditional physicians.
The 11 paintings from the set, consisting of the 65 plates were published in the book, entitled “The Atlas of Tibetan Medicine in the cultural space of [[Wikipedia:Central Asia|Central Asia]]”, the authors V. Shaglakhaev ([[Dashi Lama) and N. Bolsokhoeva. Ulan-Ude. 2010. Those drawings give valuable materials for the profound study the principles and features’ of the illustration in Transbaikalia..
- Bris cha (“The Atlas of Tibetan Medicine”), consisting of 76 plates. The History Museum of Buryatia named after M.N. Khangalov. Ulan-Ude: Inv. No. 15. A. 18-79. Sizes of the plates 65x88.
- Bris cha (Illustrations on Tibetan Medicine of the Atsagat Medical School). The History Museum of Buryatia, named after M.N. Khangalov. Ulan-Ude: OF 8281.
- Yendonov D. Textbook on anatomy and physiology, manuscript. The History Museum of Buryatia, named after M.N. Khangalov. Ulan-Ude: OF14824 (12) (in old- Mongolian).
- Yendonov D. Russian-Mongolian Dictionary of medical terminology. The History Museum of Buryatia, named after M.N. Khangalov. Ulan-Ude: OF 18405.
- «Атлас тибетской медицины». Свод иллюстраций к тибетскому медицинскому трактату XVII века «Голубой берилл». 1994. Вступительные статьи Н.Д. Болсохоевой, Д.Б. Дашиева, В.С. Дылыковой - Парфионович, К.М. Герасимовой, Л.Э. Мялля, Т.В. Сергеевой. Перевод текста атласа Т.А. Асеевой, Н.Д. Болсохоевой, Т.Г. Бухашеевой, Д.Б. Дашиева. Пояснительный текст к листам атласа составил на основании исследования тибетских медицинских трактатов «Четверокнижие» и «Голубой берилл» Ю.М. Парфионович, из-во «Галарт», М.,592 c..
- Bolsokhoeva N.D. 1992, the Mandala of the Medicine Buddha-Menla. According to the “Atlas of Tibetan Medicine’ in. Buddhist Himalayas. Kathmandu, 5, No. 1&2:
- Bolsokhoeva N.D., Gerasimova K.M. 1998, the “Atlas of Tibetan Medicine”. Treasure from the History Museum of Buryatia in ‘The Buddha’s Art of Healing. Tibetan Painting Rediscovered. Foreword by His Holiness of the Dalai-Lama XIV. New York: Rizzoli, 33-60.
- Bolsokhoeva N.D, 2007. Tibetan Medical Illustrations from the History Museum of Buryatia, Ulan-Ude in Asian Medicine. Tradition and Modernity. Leiden. Brill Academic Publishers, vol. 3, No. 2. 347-367.
- Shaglakhaev V.A. (Dashi Lama), Bolsokhoeva N.D, 2010. ‘The Atlas of Tibetan Medicine’ in the cultural space of Central Asia. Publishing - House of the Republican Centre of Medical Prophylaxis of Ministry of Public Health of Republic of Buryatia. Ulan-Ude. 86 p. (in Russian).