Monday, April 10, 2006

The Mongolian Legend of Molon Toyin

From the paucity of information around online about Yeke riti qubilγan tu molon toyin-u eke-yin ači-yi qariγuluγsan tuγuji bölüge ('Tale how the very miraculous Bodhisattva Molon toyin repaid to his mother good actions') it seems Molon Toyin was one of Buddha's 10 known disciples.

The classic Molon Toyin (Maudgalyāyana) legend has the pious monk making a descent into the underworld to rescue his mother. During his journey he encounters 8 hot and 8 cold versions of hell in which the damned are seen suffering their punishments. I gather the legend originates in Tibet with the first Mongolian translation/rendering in about the 16th century.

The above simplistic 19th century lithographs are part of a 90 page manuscript at the Royal Danish Library. It's not quite clear but they seem to have 2 other Molon Toyin manuscripts (and from another copy). The colour and some of the figures remind me of the comic-like illustrations in Mayan/Aztec codices.

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