Ivolginsk Buddhist Datsan, Main Temple, Interior, Ivolga, Russia


This photograph of the interior of the main temple at the Ivolginsk Buddhist datsan (monastery) 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. This primary Buddhist center in the Republic of Buriatiia (Russian Federation) is situated 25 kilometers to the southwest of Ulan-Ude near the Ivolga River. It was founded in 1946 after the destruction or closure of previous Buddhist monastic communities in what appears to have been a cultural gesture by the Soviet regime. The temples, shrines, and other structures of the datsan follow regional Buddhist principles in form and decoration. The most notable example is the main temple, or tsokchen-dugan. Although built in the late 1940s with light-colored engineering brick, the temple displays proportions and ornamentation that adhere to Buddhist traditions. The interior is a symphony of color, from the benches and tables for study of the sacred texts to the main altar, with its representations of the Buddha, as well as a portrait of the Dalai Lama. The painted wooden columns, with representations of the lotus and other symbols, support the upper structure of the temple, which is reserved for the lamas.

Last updated: January 11, 2016