|The Soyombo, national symbol of Mongolia|
In Zanabazar's time it was soyumbu or soyungbu.
The Soyombo is a national symbol of Mongolia, perhaps even the national symbol, as well as a writing system, tracing its origin to Занабазар (Zanabazar). Zanabazar (1635-1723) was the first Богд хаан (Bogd haan), the chief spiritual leader of Vajrayana Buddhism in Mongolia. Like the Dalai Lama, the position of Богд хаан passes to someone who is identified as the rebirth of the previous Богд хаан. Zanabazar was an accomplished artist who established the tradition for Mongolian Buddhist art. Nowadays, the major art museum in Ulaanbaatar is named after Zanabazar. If this wasn't enough, Zanabazar may have been a proto-conlanger, because he invented his own writing system, the Соёмбо бичиг (Soyombo bichig or Soyombo script). He didn't take full credit for it, but ascribed its invention to a vision. Because of this spontaneous appearance, he named his script svayambhu. This is composed of the Sanskrit roots sva, "self, own" and bhū, "be" [*] and can be translated as "created out of itself," "self-developed," "self-manifested" or "that which is created by its own accord." In classical Mongolian this became soyumbu or soyungbu, and finally соёмбо in the modern language.
The Soyombo symbol is one of the characters in the Soyombo alphabet. Within the script, it actually appears in two variations, a white and a black variation, which were used to divide passages and texts. This symbol is made up of many smaller shapes with particular meanings.
The alphabet as a whole never caught on, and is usually only seen in some temple inscriptions. The Soyombo symbol, however, took on a life of its own, and has become the most prominent symbol of Mongolia. The Soyombo was placed on the flag of the new independent Mongolia in 1911, and has remained, in some form, on every flag since then. (The socialists placed a star representing socialism on it, which was removed when the country democratized in the 1990s.) The Soyombo appears on Mongolian money, the Mongolian coat of arms, and on almost every government seal and signet I've seen. Outside of official use, it's very popular to put the Soyombo on all kinds of things. As with the name Chinggis Khaan (Genghis Khan) it's popular to give the name "Soyombo" to just about anything that can be named. The Soyombo has given its name to various places and businesses, a movie theater, a brand of vodka, and lots of other things. According to the book Chinggis's Mongolia:
- The three-pointed flame symbolizes the flourishing of all people young and old, in the past present and future.
- The circle and crescent represent the sun and moon, and thus the everlasting blue sky and indestructability of Mongolia.
- The downward-pointing triangle represents a spearhead to protect against enemies.
- The rectangle represents a shield, and by extension honesty, stability, and loyalty.
- The yin-yang symbol represents two fish. In Mongolian folklore, fish are believed to never close their eyes, and to breed like rabbits. Thus it reminds people to be alert, and to "be fruitful and multiply."
- The two vertical rectangles represent walls. If Mongolians live in harmony with their motherland, they will be as strong as an iron wall.
SentencesСоёмбо нь Занабазарын зохиосон, Монгол, Санскрит, Төвд үг бичихэд зориулагдсан бичиг юм.
The Soyombo is a script composed by Zanabazar and intended to write Mongolian, Sanskrit, and Tibetan.
|Soyombo on a truck. The Mongolian script reads: Монголын Бурханы Шашин Соёлын Соёмбо Наадам. Bonus point if you recognize the background pattern on this sticker.|
|Soyombo on top of a pillar|
|Soyombo in an insurance company's name.|
|Soyombo brand vodka|
|Soyombo on an official government document|
|Soyombo script at a Buddhist temple. The Soyombo symbol is on the far left.|
|Soyombo on the Mongolian flag|
|Soyombo on the fence of the parliament building|
|Flame, circle, and crescent on top of a суврага at a temple.|