Gusinoe Ozero (Town), Datsan, Main Temple (1858-70), West Facade, Gusinoe Ozero, Russia


This photograph of the main temple at the Gusinoozersk Buddhist monastery (datsan) was taken in 2000 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Located near Gusinoe Ozero (Goose lake) in the southwestern part of the Republic of Buriatiia (Russian Federation), the Gusinoozersk, or Tamchinskii, datsan was founded in the mid-18th century and in 1809 became the center of Buddhism in eastern Siberia, a position it held until 1930. In 1858 work began on a new main temple to replace the previous wooden temple dating from 1750. In a pattern typical for large Buddhist temples in this area, the main part was built of brick and the upper two stories of wood. The primary entrance (south façade) is contained within a portico with six large masonry columns. Although 1870 usually is given as the date of completion, work continued on the richly decorated interior until the end of the 19th century. As a result of the monastery's closure in the 1930s, the temple was ransacked, and its interior fell into ruin. The temple is now undergoing restoration as part of the revival of the Buddhist cultural and spiritual legacy in Buriatiia.

Last updated: January 11, 2016