Happy New Year – Buryat

sagaalgan white moon festival

Сагаан hapaap! Сагаалганаар!

The New Year for the Buryats starts with Sagaalgan (the “White Month”) festival, which corresponds to the Mongolian Tsagaan Sar (“the White Moon”), and is celebrated one month after the first new moon following winter solstice.

The Buryats are Mongols who live in the south-central region of Siberia along the eastern shore of Lake Baikal known as Buryatia. In Buryatia bonfires, Buddhist prayers and visits to friends and family are the traditional ways of celebrating Sagaalgan. Buuza (big meat dumplings) and ‘white foods’ are consumed during this time which include cheese, curds, bread, dumplings and milk.

My illustration depicts a Buryat woman in traditional costume based on photos from the late 19th to early 20th century. She stands by a Buryat horse – a hardy equine breed which can endure the harshest of winter conditions.


Fortunate Blue Sheep

tsagaan sar blue sheep 04small

Today is Tsagaan Sar – the White Moon – is first day of the Mongolian New Year. 2015 is the Year of the Blue Sheep in the Mongol lunar calendar. Domesicated sheep for Mongolians are seen as symbols of fortune and peace during this time. Above is the prototype for my Blue Sheep greeting card.

Шинэ жилийн мэнд хүргэе!

(Have a Healthy New Moon!, Mongolian)

Year of the Wood Horse


Happy New Year !

Mongolians celebrate the new year, Tsagaan Sar, on the second new moon after winter solstice. This year the 31st of January is the first day of the Year of the Wooden horse. In turn, this wonderful symbol became the basis of my takhi illustration for a greeting card, which the prototype is featured above.

The takhi (Mongolian) is also known in English as the dzungarian or Przewalski’s horse. It is an endangered species of wild horse, which was native to the steppes of Central Asia but died out last century. The only remaining takhi were found in captivity around the world. The takhi has been recently reintroduced to Mongolia from herds derived from a breeding programme involving zoo animals.

Terekty Aulie

Horse petroglyphs from Terekty Aulie, Central Kazakhstan

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a rock art site in Central Kazakhstan (Terekty Aulie) which has countless takhi-like equids carved into the natural rock. Kazakh archaeologists date these images to the Bronze Age of Central Kazakhstan, circa 1500 bce.

More information about the rock art site of Terekty Aulie is found at http://basr.ac.uk/diskus_old/diskus11/lymer.html