II. Cultural Relics and Ancient Books
and Records Are Well Preserved and Utilized
In old Tibet, cultural relic protection was virtually nonexistent. But since the Democratic Reform, the Central People's Government has attached great importance to the protection of cultural relics in Tibet. As early as in June 1959, the Tibet Cultural Relics, Historical Sites, Documents and Archives Management Committee was established to collect and protect a large number of cultural relics, archives, and ancient books and records. At the same time, the Central People's Government assigned work teams to Lhasa, Xigaze and Shannan to conduct on-the-spot investigations of major cultural relics. A total of nine historical sites were listed among the first batch of important cultural relic sites under state-level protection by the State Council in 1961, including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Ganden Monastery, Tibetan King's Tomb, Mount Dzong (Dzongri) Anti-British Monument in Gyangze County, and the Guge Kingdom ruins. Even in such a special period as the "Cultural Revolution"; (1966-1976), Premier Zhou Enlai gave instructions personally that special measures be taken to protect major cultural relics like the Potala Palace from destruction. After the "Cultural Revolution," the Central People's Government took prompt measures to repair and protect a lot of historical relics, investing more than 300 million yuan to repair and open 1,400-odd monasteries and temples. In particular, between 1989 and 1994, the Central People's Government allocated 55 million yuan and a great quantity of gold, silver and other precious materials to repair the Potala Palace, which was unprecedented in China's history of historical relic preservation. In May 1994, experts entrusted by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inspected the repaired Potala Palace and said that the design and construction of the repairs had both attained advanced world levels. They considered it "a miracle in the history of ancient building protection" and "a great contribution to the protection of Tibetan, and even world, culture." In December 1994, in view of its importance and condition of protection the World Heritage Committee unanimously agreed to place the Potala Palace on the World Heritage List. Meanwhile, representatives from various countries also expressed their support for the proposal on including the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa in the same list. Now, the Central People's Government allocates four to five million yuan every year for cultural relic protection in Tibet. From 1994 to 1997, the Central Government invested nearly 100 million yuan to construct the Tibet Autonomous Region Museum, one of the leading modern museums in China, with an area of 52,479 square meters and a floor space of 21,000 square meters.
In 1965, the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region set up the Cultural Relics Administration Committee to take charge of the preservation and administration of cultural relics in Tibet. It named 11 historical sites, such as Ramoche Monastery, Radreng Monastery and Tsurpu Monastery, as important cultural relic sites under autonomous region-level protection, and repaired those that urgently needed repair. Beginning in the 1980s, the Tibet Autonomous Region has issued successively the Proclamation of the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region on Improving the Preservation of Cultural Relics, the Interim Provisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Administration of Scattered Cultural Relics, the Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Protection and Administration of Cultural Relics, and the Measures for the Protection and Administration of the Potala Palace. These laws and regulations have brought the work of preserving cultural relics in Tibet within the orbit of legalization and standardization. At the same time, a large contingent of cultural relic protection staff has been formed, and the ranks of such personnel are constantly growing. According to statistics, there are now more than 270 archeologists in Tibet, among whom 95 percent are Tibetans.
Remarkable achievements have been gained in archeological work in Tibet. Among them, the excavation of the Karuo ruins, Qamdo, attracted the attention of archeologists both at home and abroad. Since the 1970s, China has conducted archeological work extensively in Tibet and unearthed many Old and New Stone Age sites, gradually unveiling the mystery of the origins of the society, history and traditional culture of Tibet. A general survey made from the mid-1980s to the beginning of the 1990s discovered 1,700-odd sites of cultural remains, and unearthed and collected several thousand cultural relics. In addition, over six million words of archeological documents were edited, along with 670-odd diagrams, more than 30,000 photos were taken, and some 400 pictures of tablet inscriptions, stone statues and murals were copied. These materials have helped outline the changes and development of Tibet from ancient to modern times, and revealed the long-standing cultural exchanges between the Tibetan, Han and other neighboring ethnic groups. Moreover, they furnish a full and reliable basis for archeological workers of the present and later times to better preserve cultural relics and strengthen archeological work in Tibet. Currently, there are 18 important cultural relic sites under state-level protection, three famous historical and cultural cities under state-level protection, 64 cultural relic sites under autonomous region-level protection, and 20-odd cultural relic sites under county- or city-level protection in Tibet. In recent years, Tibet has successfully held Tibetan cultural relic exhibitions in Japan, France, Italy, Argentina and other countries, promoting cultural exchanges between Tibet and other nations worldwide, and helping the international community better understand Tibet.
Ancient documents and archives are well preserved in Tibet. There are enormous numbers of Tibetan-language documents and archives in various categories, next in number only to the Han-Chinese language ones. In June 1959, the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region, on the instructions of the State Council, issued Some Provisions on Strengthening the Administration of Cultural Relics, Historical Sites, Documents and Archives, and started to edit, preserve, collect and store the documents and archives of the former local government of Tibet and its subordinate departments, as well as those collected by monasteries, temples and aristocrats. As a result, a fairly complete collection of archives was established. In 1984, the Central People's Government allocated a large amount of money to build the new Tibet Autonomous Region Archives, with improved functions and modern facilities. At present, there are over three million volumes in the Archives. Large-format books such as A Selection of Tibetan Historical Archives and An Inventory of the Year of the Iron-Tiger edited by the Tibet Autonomous Region Archives have been published, furnishing precious materials for research. The government institutions at all levels in Tibet have collected over four million volumes of archives on paper, silk, wood, metal, stone and Pattra leaf. Among them, more than 90 percent are in Tibetan, and the others in a variety of languages such as Han Chinese, Manchu, Mongolian, Hindi, Sanskrit, Nepalese, English and Russian. These archives, which date from the Yuan Dynasty to contemporary times, constitute a treasure-house of chronologically complete historical records.