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In a Mongolian wind burial, a body falls on land before getting swept up to the heavens

In Turko-Mongolic tradition, the concepts of ‘god’ and ‘sky’ are contained in the single word tengri. According to the ancient religion of Tengrism, at death, the wind spirit ushers one’s soul back to the sky god Tengri in an inevitable return to nature. In this short film, the Mongolian-born, Montreal-based filmmaker Alisi Telengut uses hand-painted animation to illustrate the Mongolian postmortem ceremony known as a wind burial, in which the deceased’s body is carried on a cart until it falls off: wherever the body then lands becomes its burial ground. Telengut captures this ritual with a poetic touch, layering oil pastels in a dazzling display of ever-changing colours and textures as the form of a body ascends from the Earthly and into infinite. Shot frame-by-frame over four months, Tengri thoughtfully explores the intersection of death, spirituality and nature while honouring Mongolian spiritual practice and tradition. For more from Telengut, watch her films Tears of Inge and Nutag.

Director: Alisi Telengut

5 April 2022

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