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April, 16, 2018

The Mountain of Uran-Dushe: the Earthen Realm of Heavenly Blacksmiths

Local residents claim that numerous air and car accidents, accidents involving the things made of iron, are connected with the blacksmith cult. This is the way the ancestors-blacksmiths try to reach their descendants. Indeed, in ancient times blacksmiths’ art was considered a gift of the gods. “Key to Baikal” will tell about the mysterious mountain of Uran-Dushe and the cult connected with it.

The Masters of the Mountain

There is a legend about the Uran-Dushe Mountain. It says that the mountain’s masters are heavenly blacksmiths – “darkhans” – lead by the deity called Damdin Dorlig Sakhyusan. The name of the mountain is translated as “an anvil mountain”.

It is located at a hundred-kilometer distance from the village of Utata, upstream the Sekhir River, at the junction of the borders of the Tunkinsky National Park, Zakamensky Dstrict and Mongolia. This mountain rises above the surrounding territory, being a considerably high ground feature with a small flat surface. From a distance it really resembles an anvil. Hence came the legend about Genghis Khan who shod his horse on this mountain.

The owners of this unique mountain are 77 heavenly darkhans under the protection of 99 demigods – “tengris”. Sometimes lonely or romantic travelers cannot take their eyes off the purple-red glow around the mountain shortly before dawn. They say that these phenomenon can be observed when heavenly darkhans descend from the heaven to the Earth and indulge in their favorite hobby: the blacksmith's and jeweler's crafts. If a person sees this kind of glow, then, according to legend, he or she may remain happy for the rest of his or her life. According to another version, only an initiated person can observe and understand all the secrets of rites and legends dedicated to this mountain.

It is believed that the demigods convey their mastery only to the chosen ones. Only the worthiest masters receive such initiation. According to the legend, the genera having darkhans as ancestors or contemporaries have always been stronger and more powerful than those having shaman relatives. The residents of Zakamensy District call the extraordinary “anvil mountain” the “heart” of the mountainous region and deem it their duty to worship the demigods in that sacred place.

In the days of old, when the first snowdrops appeared from under the snow with the advent of spring, shamans-blacksmiths of many eminent noble genera that lived in the valley of the rivers of Dzhida, Sekhir, Orongodoi and other places, gathered at the foot of the sacred mountain to conduct the rite of spring. And the autumn rite was held prior to the closure of the “heavenly gate” in September. Only male representatives of the population came here, and women’s presence during blacksmiths’ ceremonies was a strict taboo.

The successors of the family branch of shamans-blacksmiths are always men, because only a man chosen by blacksmith spirits can bring his offerings to heaven and get a unique talent and blacksmith’s skills in return. Moreover, such men receive not only the talent of creating the wonders of jewelry art, but also the ability to heal people and help them to get rid of all kinds of diseases and everyday problems.

Heavenly Glow

 The last rite of the cult of heavenly blacksmiths was performed back in 1930s under the leadership of Dansaran, a darkhan-zaarin (shaman blacksmith) from the genus of the khongodors (an indigenous ethnic group in Buryatia). Since then many rites and mysteries of the shamanism practice have been forgotten, during the era of the Red Terror and repressions, during the fight against religion. In early autumn of 2011 shamans-blacksmiths of the local religious organization "Hukhe Munkhe Tengeri" led by Dondok Tsydypov held a new rite of the cult of heavenly blacksmiths in accordance with ancient traditions and laws of shamanism at the foot of the sacred mountain.

The rite involved 55 western tengerins (shamans) under the leadership of Khan Khurmast Tengeri, 44 eastern tengerins under the leadership of Atai Ulaan Tengeri, 13 northern khuts led by Bukh Noion, 77 heavenly blacksmiths led by Damdin Dorlig Sakhuyusan, the guardian of the faith and patron of warriors and military affairs Khihan Ulaan Tengeri, spirits and ezens of different localities. Every shaman blacksmith taking part in the rite was summoning the blacksmith spirits of his own genus – Tengeri Ongons.

By summoning these spirits, each shaman blacksmith asked them for blessing for the sake of peace on the Earth, deliverance from diseases and troubles, protection from earthquakes and natural disasters, a mild winter and a good harvest next year. The next rite of the cult of “heavenly blacksmiths” will be held in spring after the opening of the “heavenly gate”.

The number of tourists, local school students, families with children who want to see the majestic Uran-Dushe Mountain with their own eyes, go hiking and ride horses, breathe fresh mountain air, pray and receive the blessing, is growing year after year.

Here it you will need the knowledge of the proper way of worshipping and asking for the fulfillment of the most cherished dreams, because in our difficult times many things depend on the protection of the heavenly Burkhans.

The Patron of Art

Damdin Dorlig, or Damzhan, is a patron deity of talented people: blacksmiths-darhkans, jewelers, saddlers, carpenters and woodworkers, tailors and seamstresses. This deity also protects poets and writers, storytellers and musicians, bone setters and fire-worshipers - galshans, as well as fortunetellers using sheep shoulder blades. Nowadays the deity is worshipped by Aginsk buryats as a patron spirit of jewelers.

Dorlig Khan, or Damzhan Dorlig Sakhyusan, belongs to the category of angry deities who took Buddhist vows from the teacher called Padmasambhava preaching in Tibet. Therefore, the guru Badma-Sambava is worshiped on a par with Damdin Dorlig, as a teacher of the deity.

Just like the majority of sakhyuusans-guardians, this deity has an intimidating appearance. His body is of dark blue color, he has three eyes. Therefore, he is depicted with an angry face, in a hat wear called “zholber” shaped like an iron hat. The guardian holds a blacksmith's hammer in his right hand, and blacksmith's bellows made of human skin in his left hand. Damdin Dorlig rides a light brown goat engulfed in black flames. Disjoined body parts lay under the goat’s feet, which symbolizes the world of Samsara (“shukhan dalai”).

The rite devoted to the patron deity of blacksmiths was held in a blacksmith’s shop by the blacksmith himself and/or by a shaman of blacksmith origin. During this rite, oil was sprinkled on the anvil, archi (Mongolian vodka) was poured on bellows. The furnace was ignited; oil, tea, milk, sometimes archi was sprinkled in it, pieces of salamata (white bread) were thrown there.

A prayer service devoted to the cult of Damdin Dorlig has been held on the second lunar day of each month in the Tsugolsky Datsan. The following offerings were brought to deities: white food (“sagaan tabag”), boiled milk, black tea.

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