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Land of the Jowos: Buddhist Temples in Mongolia as the Embodiment of Statehood

Dr. Sangseraima Ujeed, University of Michigan
Goodman Lecture
January 20
8:00 pm UTC

The Jokhang temple in Lhasa is home to the Jowo Shakyamuni statue. Together, the temple and the image embody the most sacred site of Buddhism in Tibet and the divine nature of the seat of Tibet’s Buddhist government in Lhasa. “Jowo” in Tibetan—or “Juu” in Mongolian—refers specifically to the Buddha Shakyamuni. At the end of the 16th century, large numbers of temples named “Juu” were erected all across Mongolian lands: from the south in Kökenür, stretching across the Gobi Desert, and even up the Orkhon Valley in the north. A shared characteristic of these temples is that they were all built by Mongolian kings and princes who were consolidating their power and establishing their own realms to reign over as Buddhist sovereigns. This talk takes a tour through these monasteries and temples to shed light on the interplay between Buddhism and the state, which led to the proliferation of institutionalized Buddhism in Mongolian lands, and on the impact these processes had on the disintegration of a unified Mongol state.

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