Museum to unblock a massive collection

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 15, 2016
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Dege Sutra-Printing House. (Xinhua photo/Wang Di)

China's largest Tibetan sutra-printing house, in Sichuan Province's Dege County, is to get its own museum to exhibit and preserve the centuries-old wooden printing blocks.

Dege Sutra-Printing House currently has 320,000 Tibetan sutra-printing blocks.

"The blocks are stacked up to the roof, the over-crowding is a fire risk," said Yang Sheng, vice director of Kamba Culture Institute in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, Sichuan.

The three-story wooden structure was built in 1729, and it has no electricity, he said.

The new 10,000-square-meter museum will be built in 2018, with state funding of 80 million yuan (US$12 million).

It will house some of the blocks and there will be space to exhibit materials related to the engraving, printing, and paper-making for traditional sutra-printing. Digital archives of the printing blocks will also be available.

"The museum will introduce visitors to the history and culture of Tibetan sutra-printing," Yang said.

The printing house boasts a vast collection, including classic literature across the five major schools of Tibetan Buddhism — Nyingmapa, Sakyapa, Kagyu, Bonpo and Gelug.

Preservation work has been stepped up at the facility in recent years, Yang said.

More than five dozen craftsmen hand-craft new wooden blocks of the Buddhist Tripitaka, a treasured collection that records the words and deeds of Shakyamuni, the founding father of Buddhism.

"Carving the board is quite time consuming, even a skilled craftsman can only make seven blocks a month," said Yang, adding that the Dege government has promised to recruit more craftsmen.

The facility attracts 60,000 Buddhist devotees and visitors every year, and it expects more in future.

An airport is under construction near the county. Starting from next year, the trip from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, to Dege will be shortened from a two-day drive to a two-hour flight.

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