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8 September 2010

Spiritual homage from Leningrad

Natalia Bogdanovskaya, Tuvinskaya Pravda. Тranslated by Heda Jindrak

Spiritual homage from Leningrad “God of fire, give us happiness, please, fire, give us happiness and prosperity in the yurt…” – the rhythmically bewitching voice of a St. Petersburg actress sounds throughout the conference auditorium of the National Museum. On the screen is a photograph of the shamaness in ecstasy of the “kamlanie”. When on the background of the sound of her drumming, an image of Tuvan steppe materializes through the flames of the fire, it seem that you, the spectator, are also departing on a journey about which the intermediary is chanting:  We will swim over the river that is forbidden to cross, we will force the pass which it is forbidden to ascend”. This is the first time that the algyshes of Tuvan shamans sound in Russian language in this hall. The first time that a photograph, thanks to elegant montage is transformed into a video film, which starts with the text: “In our huge Russia, there is an extremely mysterious and beautiful country. Its mighty mountain ridges with eternal snow touch the heavens. Between the ice and the deserts tower the mountains, covered in virginal forests”.

The film is a present from St. Petersburg scholarly society of admirers of Tuva, made for the occasion of the jubileum of Doctor of historical sciences, Mongush Borakhovich Kenin-Lopsan.

And Mongush Kenin-Lopsan, the spiritual teacher, more than deserves this present - a spiritual offering.

The donor is Stanislav Shapiro, an artist-photographer.

As the participant of the project “Following the tracks of explorers of Khakassia and Tuva of XVII-XX Centuries” explained – “I really wanted to make a present to Mongush Borakhovich from his Leningrad friends. A present to the person whose name “Keeper of Tuvan shamanism” will shine in gold lettering throughout Tuvan history.”

The film was a little bit delayed, but one strophe of the text explains this delay “When you see riders in the fields, it seems that they are Scythians or Huns.” Only historians and archeologists can see our “mysterious and beautiful” Tuva in this way. When they met in the native country of the celebrant last summer, the author of the film was waiting for them. Among the Leningrad contingent, wanting to congratulate the National Heritage of Tuva were archeologists Konstantin Chugunov, Vladimir Semenov, photographer Vladimir Nikiforov, historian, poet and publicist Andzhei Ikonnikov-Galitskiy, and other guests. The poem read by Andzhei, in his words, originated at the borders of traditions of Russian and shamanic poetry. Even Latin sounded in it, the ages-old companion of explorers. In the conference hall, the audience could also become acquainted with photographs of S. Shapiro and V. Nikiforov, “The Road through Mongun-Taiga”.

One of the surprises of this celebration was the video-congratulation from the scholar- recluse Georgiy Kurbatskiy who called Mongush Kenin-Lopsan a “spiritual orchestra”.  It is very imaginative and accurate:  any instrument of enlightenment that Kenin-Lopsan took up, whether it was folklore, ethnography, museum work, publishing or poetry, became a mighty component of the entire symphonic structure.

The minister of education of the republic, Petr Morozov, joined the numbers of the gathering. Having given homage to the hero of the day as the founder of national pedagogics of Tuva, he said:

 I bow to of this man.  I thank my fate that he is a part of my life, that he lives right here in our Tuva, and that he should be able to do even more for the education of children and descendants.

Stanislav Shapiro‘s film “One who flies with birds” made with the newest computer technology, has wonderful sound.  The call of the kite, gurgling of a brook, voices of animals – these are rare field audio-recordings made several years ago by yet another admirer of Kenin-Lopsan, American scientist  Ralph Leighton, and performances by the Tuvan ensemble Huun-Huur-Tu.

Kenin-Lopsan , excited and touched thanked the group from the banks of the river Neva:

-My professors in Leningrad exhorted me to work with shamanic folklore in the years when this aspect of culture was forbidden. We owe very much to scholars from Leningrad, to admirers of Tuva. And especially to the archeologist Chugunov, who made Tuva famous by finding the gold of the Scythians.  I am confident that even in the future, scientists and scholars  of Tuva and St. Petersburg  will always work together in an inspired friendship. And there will be many new discoveries.

Having written the address on the present, which is known all over the world: “Tuva, Kyzyl, Little Cabin, to Kenin-Lopsan” the author of the film concludes it in this way: “ Why would the great shaman need an office? What could he learn from a computer? He, like always, admits everyone who comes to him with questions. But only those who want to find the answers receive them.”

When I meet again this strange old man in the streets of Kyzyl, in very modest attire, with a wanderer’s shoulder-bag, absorbed in his thoughts, I am confident that the words from Stanislav Shapiro‘s film will come to mind: “The name given to him by a Tibetan monk translates as “idiot-savant”.

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