Roerich was sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture to go to Inner Mongolia, Manchuria and China on a botanical expedition. The purpose of this expedition was to find drought-resistant grasses to help with the Dust Bowl crisis in the U.S. This painting, “Batukhalka, Capital of Inner Mongolia” (1936), depicts one of the places Roerich passed through on this expedition.
Roerich received an invitation to visit Prince Yun-Wang, the then-head of the autonomous government of Inner Mongolia. They met in Batukhalka and Roerich describes the encounter as an amicable and eventful one:
“We exchange presents. On our part a gold enameled watch of French workmanship… He invites us to participate in the annual festival in the Batukhalka monastery, where the sacred dances, “Tsam” of Lamas, take place. On leaving we also visit his private chapel, situated in the same compound.” (“Vigil: Letters from Asia”)
To read more from “Vigil: Letters from Asia,” please go to our website, roerich.org, where you can read the full text and buy the book.