No matter how often we mention the rapture and amazement before the anonymous creativity scattered upon the entire face of Earth, nevertheless, we are enraptured every time we see new examples. When, upon dangerous mountain passes, you find gigantic images upon rocks, hewed out by someone's loving labor, you are filled each time with reverence for such creativeness, molded by a primal force. And in Mongolian deserts you will always pause before this nameless creativeness, so little understood at present. How many discussions have been provoked by the so-called "stone babas"1. Only recently there were attempts to account for these monumental portraits as being reminders of those buried, as it were. The reason for this was in the historic details of the costume. Also, a chalice placed in the left hand of the statue compelled one to reflect about its origin. Sometimes such a chalice had a sign of fire over it. There was such an image in my painting "The Guardians of the Desert".
In any event, a chalice adorned by fire could not be connected with the concept of a burial ritual. In this detail was already contained a reminder about some cult. The more so since the chalice drew attention to itself, being repeated many times in statues, and always in a somewhat ritual manner.
Our attention regarding some sort of ritual or cult was also directed to small bronze figures, brought to us by Mongols. One of them was purchased and is in George's2 collection. For another of these figures Mongols asked an exorbitant price and it could not be acquired. On each of these images there is a ring attached to the top of the head indicating that it was probably worn over the bosom. The state of polish, owing to use, indicated its great age as well as constant wearing. But the chief interest lay in that very same chalice which attracted such attention upon the images of the "stone babas."
Undoubtedly we deal with some sort of cult, and a very old one at that. A chalice with a flame over it reminds one of so many things that it would be an act of carelessness to offer some immediate explanations. In any case this question is of unusual interest.
There were also brought small bronze crosses, to be worn next to one's skin, of an ancient type probably of Nestorian origin. Not far from Batukhalka are the ruins of the old city, and nearby are the remnants of a Nestorian cemetery. Perhaps, this was the monument of a Nestorian Mongolian prince.
An unforgettable impression of anonymous creativeness is likewise made by the images molded out of white quartz which are scattered over the deserts. Among them may also be found definitely sacred figures, images of big suburgans, and at times some unexpected human-like figures, obviously of phallic meaning. Every kind of anonymous creativity, apparently needed by the originator, merits special attention.
You sense quite clearly that these creations are evoked by some deep urgency. Labor used for them was a sacred labor. Someone, unknown to us, needed to spend his strength and time in order to leave, at times in most unsuitable conditions, an anonymous monument for the instruction of some unknown travelers.
The inexhaustibility of learning associated with great antiquity is always enticing. We encounter such special psychologies, such demands so alien to our present time that every conscientious investigator will experience a special kind of joy because of this inexhaustibility.
Many works are published, but what a quantity of notes, records — sometimes fully completed — and important investigations, remain in manuscript form! Each one of +is has chanced to find in private libraries, and sometimes in a flea market, very valuable manuscripts. At times they already have been appraised by someone. They merited careful treatment in beautiful leather bindings, with very illustrious ex libris. But, just as often, one has come across barbarously torn pages, with entire parts gone forever, maybe used for most lowly needs.
So much anonymous creativeness is in these manuscripts! They were of much importance to someone. If not in their entirety, then in some parts they express many significant and lovingly collected observations.
To these nameless labors we shall bring a flower in reverence to their inner meaning.
May 12, 1935
1Stone sculptures of women
2 Nicholas Roerich's son, a well known orientalist.