Mongolia: Land of the Deer Stone

Mongolia: Land of the Deer Stone
By Elaine Ling
Lodima Press, $98

(Canscene) –To call this a monumental work is to be mistaken for a flack in tne pay of the publisher, but the fact must remain; Mongolia: Land of the Deer Stone will remain for me one of this year’s outstanding publications with promise of a long life beyond.

Hong Kong born Elaine Ling came to Canada at age nine and graduated from the University of Toronto as a physician and has worked with Aboriginal communities on health problems.

But another significant dedication started when she backpacked her view camera and began to visit deserts and other remote places throughout the world. carefully framing their vastness in her ground glass lens. Ling’s work is to be found in major photograpic collections throughout the world.

Turkcis carving

Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, visited in 2001 was to be the first of five trips there. She visited town dwellers and those who chose a nomadic life. In her book, which contains 134 amazing photographs, she discoveres the deer stones, monoliths rooted in the ground with curious markings. Her interest has roused the Smithsonian Institution into founding a research group devoted to study of the Gobi’s deer stones.

Mongolia Deer Stone

Looking through the lens of her camera, she searches for the true horizons in the desert scapes and even discovers signs of shamanism alongside Buddhism which was restored to Mongolians after the fall of the Soviets.

Later than the desert stones are other man-made sculptures, those of the Turkics which are recognizable stone replicas of people and animals.

I wonder if I will ever tire of gazing at Ling’s remarkable pictures which give entire perspectives on the lives of Mongolians. I think not.

Footnote by Ben Viccari: The sweepng succcess of the film Mongols, by Russian director Sergei Bodrov and nominated for a 2008 Oscar is planned to be the first of a trilogy on the life of Genghis Khan made in Mongolia with a Mongol cast. It has excited great interest in tourism to Mongolia.
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