dashi namdakov
Pearl 2 (2006, bronze, 120 x 40 x 25 cm)

Shortly after a boy was born in Buryatia in February 1967, his mother asked Buddhist lamas to give the baby a name, following a long-standing tradition in the Russian republic, where locals have practiced Tibetan Buddhism alongside their indigenous shamanistic tradition since the 17th century. She was given a name for the child—Dashi—as well as a prophecy: if Dashi lived past the age of 15, he would be a great man.

Fifty-four years later, that prediction has proven true—Namdakov’s sculptures, drawings, and jewelry can be found today in museums and galleries around the world—but when as an adolescent he contracted a severe and unexplained illness, his future seemed far from certain. After doctors failed to cure him, his mother brought Dashi, near death, to a local female shaman. The shaman said that the Namdakov family had angered spirits by neglecting to honor their ancestors—who include a long line of dharkans, craftsmen esteemed for their skillful metal work, artistry, and shamanistic talent. She led a rite to seek the spirits’ forgiveness, and the young Namdakov recovered. From that moment on, Namdakov devoted his life to developing his artistic gifts as a way of embodying his spiritual heritage.

Namdakov forges metal sculptures that seem familiar yet strange, as if they had emerged from the mists of a mythical past.

Covering a portion of Russian Siberia on the Mongolian border, Buryatia has long been the meeting place of great cultures and continents, and Namdakov channels this history into dreamlike works. Drawing on his dharkan lineage as well as traditional Buddhist and shamanistic imagery, he forges metal sculptures that seem familiar yet strange, as if they had emerged from the mists of a mythical past. Indeed, Namdakov sees his art as a shamanistic practice that keeps his ancestors’ ways alive.

Namdakov’s sculptural universe is populated with sinuous animals, monks, shamans, and fierce warriors or beautiful women on horseback. Works like Fantasy (2013) show the interdependence of humans and animals, and Boy on the cat (2010) contrasts a carefree child with the fierce cat he is riding.

Fantasy (2013, bronze, 150 x 125 x 40 cm) is part of a series juxtaposing people and fantastical creatures. Here, a girl rides a horse with a dragon on its rump, accompanied by a guardian leopard.
In Eclipse (2002, silver, 22 x 13 x 18 cm) a warrior and his horse look toward the cosmos, forgetting their heavy armor and remembering the closeness between earthbound creatures and the universe.

Buryatia has long been the meeting place of great cultures, and Namdakov channels this history into dreamlike works.

Flow (2018, bronze, 110 x 106 x 106 cm) depicts women moving together to form one peculiar, tender being, evoking a sense of unrestrained freedom and intimacy.
dashi namdakov
Boy on the cat (2010, bronze, 59 x 69 x 22 cm)
Get Daily Dharma in your email

Start your day with a fresh perspective

a photo of a Buddhist meditating
Explore timeless teachings through modern methods.

With Stephen Batchelor, Sharon Salzberg, Andrew Olendzki, and more

See Our Courses

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

This article is only for Subscribers!

Subscribe now to read this article and get immediate access to everything else.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.