Look closely at Roerich’s “Shambale Daik” (1931) and you will see the figure of an archer, set against a mottled, almost tapestry-like rock. For Roerich, the archer had particular significance. In “Himalayas-Abode of Light,” he writes about the “ancient art of archery” and how the “hill men still know their noble art, and the arrows shall certainly reach the hearts of Kanchenjunga’s enemies.”
Roerich makes another interesting comparison between the archer and the traveler. He writes that the “sensitive traveler,” who is willing to exchange his city life for a life among the mountains, has a reverence and “exalted feeling” towards natural beauty. It is this feeling, he writes, that has the same meaning as the “bevy of archers who stand vigilant, ready to guard the beauty and treasures of Kanchenjunga.” This traveler, then, has his own fighting spirit. Roerich himself was this kind of traveler, who not only displayed resilience in surviving his travels but also had a protective spirit about the cultures he encountered along the way. The effort to preserve and protect culture is echoed in all of Roerich’s writing, so it is no surprise that he felt such a kinship with these ancient archers.
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