Tibetan Relics Well Preserved

"In my view, it is ridiculous and shameful for the Dalai Lama to say that the Chinese government has destroyed and looted all the Tibetan relics," said Gyayang, director of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Administration of Cultural Heritage.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Gyayang said China established a special organization for protecting Tibetan relics as early as the 1950s. The central government included the Potala Palace and eight other historical sites in Tibet in the first group of key relics under state-level protection.

The official disclosed that over the past two decades and more, the central government has spent more than 300 million yuan (US$36.14 million) on the repair of more than 1,400 temples in Tibet, and as a result, a large amount of relics in the region are well protected.

Currently, the central government allocates 4 million to 5 million yuan for protecting Tibetan relics annually.

Relics experts said Thursday that Tibet boasts many rare relics, and especially those of Tibetan Buddhism, adding that it will take at least 20 years, to perform a thorough investigation of the region's relics.

Relics departments are sorting out the relics at the Potala Palace, which is on the World Heritage list. They have set up files on 120,000 relics, which make up just a small part of the palace's total.

Exhibited at the 10,000-square-meter exhibition hall of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Museum are several thousand relics. The relics include sutras hand-written by leaders of various religious sects, such as one written during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), time-tested Buddha figures and Tangka, a kind of scroll painting mounted on brocade, which developed out of mural painting in the 7th century and flourished from the 14th to 19th centuries.

The museum also houses gold vessels used for choosing reincarnated soul boys of Dalai and Panchen lamas and over 1,200-year-old Buddhist Scriptures on pipal (palm leaves used as paper). All of these precious Tibetan Buddhism relics are protected by toughened glass and a constant temperature and humidity level.

Qoizhoin, a worker at the museum, said the museum houses sutras inscribed on birch bark, which is more than 1,000 years old. The characters on the birch bark are still very clear and easy to identify.

More rare relics are stored in the region's 1,000 other temples.

The Sagya Monastery, the major temple of the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, stores more than 6,000 ancient Buddhist statues, a large number of relics from the Yuan Dynasty and numerous volumes of sutras.

Preserved in the Samye Monastery, the first temple in Tibet, are fingerprints said to be of the initiator of the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism and the doss of the fifth Dalai Lama.

(Xinhua 05/17/2001)

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