Tibetan monastery facelift proceeds smoothly




Tibetan monastery facelift

proceeds smoothly


By Liang Saiyu


Renovations to a centuries-old Tibetan monastery in northwest China’s Gansu Province will be finished by the end of August, local authorities said.

Renovation of the Xiabudan Buddha Hall of the Labrang Monastery in Gansu’s Xiahe county is part of a first-phase facelift to the monastery, and the project will serve as preparation for bigger renovations in the future, explained Sonam Je, deputy chief of the county’s culture bureau.

Initiated last year, the hall’s renovation has cost nearly 2.6 million yuan (about 425,000 U.S.dollars). The first-phase project includes two other halls with initial funding of 10 million yuan allocated last year, according to Sonam Je.

More than 10 other halls of Labrang Monastery are on a waiting list for renovations. The monastery, built in 1709, is one of six prestigious monasteries of the Gelugpa Sect, also known as the Yellow Hat Sect, of Tibetan Buddhism.

It is the religious center for more than 340,000 Tibetans in Gansu’s Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, one of China’s 10 Tibetan autonomous prefectures.

Despite occasional repairs in recent decades, the monastery’s mud and wood structure is in urgent need of reinforcement due to subsidence, cracks in the walls, and roof leaks, said Sonam Je in an interview with Xinhua.

These problems affect the life of the monastery’s more than 1,000 lamas and may disrupt the religious observances of local Tibetan Buddhists, he explained.

The problems also threaten the monastery’s heritage pieces, including over 30,000 Buddha statues, 65,000 volumes of Buddhist scriptures and a rich collection of sutras and murals.

The overall renovation, financed solely by the central government at a cost of 160 million yuan, will reinforce the heritage buildings without making alterations to their original appearance, according to Sonam Je.

“We’ll also refurnish the lamas’ residences, pave the paths within the monastery compound, build a car park and revamp the sewage system,” the culture chief added.

Religious activities and tourism have not been affected by the renovation work.

The renovation of the Labrang Monastery will be completed in 7 to 8 years, and the monastery will apply for World Heritage status after its completion.

“The long timetable is due to the prudent approach taken by both local cultural authorities and the Labrang clergy, as hasty renovations could ruin the 303-year-old monastery,” said Sonam Je.






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