Thursday, November 19, 2009


The Mongolian flag is now my favourite flag. The colours are not the issue; its rather the insignia on the left hand red column that sparkles the attention. It was apparently designed in the seventeenth century by Zanabazar, the Mongolian version of Michelangelo. My translator explains it thus: the fire on top is the symbol of eternity, then there is the sun below, cradled by the moon. Both of these are elemental figures grounded in the shamanism that has been around these parts for centuries. The yin/yang figure is partly influenced by Buddhism, but also relates to the watchfulness of fish. The two vertical columns indicate the strength and protection of walls - but could nowadays refer to the landlocked situation of Mongolia, squeezed between Russia and China (with friends like this, who needs enemies?) You see this insignia everywhere: on car number plates, on official stationery and random stickers. I like the idea that a country's identity can be grounded in visually powerful symbols (elemental at that) rather than words...


Anonymous,  4:52 pm  

Wow. What do the arrowheads mean?
It sounds like you're enjoying being there...bring something as you're coming back since you didn't bother to see me in London now.


Myne Whitman 1:33 am  

Ahhh, Mongolia...that's a pretty ancient country.

BTW, You can now download my book at,

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