Collection of the National Museum of Mongolia: The Tsatsal with the Twelve Zodiac AnimalsArt & Culture
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. In our series of highlight artifacts being kept at the National Museum of Mongolia, we are presenting a tsatsal (wooden spoon used for offerings) from the late 19th century and the early 20th century.
With a flat head with nine indentations, the rectangular-shaped stick has the twelve zodiac animals on two sides, and sculptures of nine yellowish horses on the top. At the end of its handle, an ochir (sacred instrument used in Buddhist ceremonies) is engraved and yellow, white, and blue khadags are tied. The tsatsal’s length is 39 cm, and its width is 6 cm.
Throughout history, Mongolians have used tsatsals with 5, 8, 9, 10, and 13 indentations.
Offerings are done with tsatsal as a way to worship the area they are currently living in as well as the world and universe, asking for its love and mercy. Aside from making the offering after making tea every morning, it is also done when seeing off those going on a long journey as well as for special occasions such as weddings, the Lunar New Year, mountain worshipping, and moving to a new area. Commonly made with cedar wood, the tsatsal is decorated with the five primary species of livestock, the twelve zodiac animals, and traditional patterns.