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Tibetan lamasery starts relocating "Scriptures wall"
www.chinaview.cn 2005-08-17 18:51:40

    LHASA, Aug. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region has kicked off an ambitious project to relocate at least 80,000 volumes of Buddhist Scriptures from where they have been for more than seven centuries.

    The 10-meter tall "Scriptures Wall" at the Sagya Lamasery in Tibet, whose exact volumes and contents remain secret, will be moved into a newly-built cultural heritage museum nearby and then back to its original location after a major renovation of the lamasery, said Gesang, an official in charge of the renovation project.

    It will take another six weeks to move all the volumes to the museum.

    He said a ritual was held on May 8, a lucky day according to Tibetan tradition, to mark the launching of the relocation project.

    "We've been coding each volume of Scripture and corresponding book shelves ever since," said Gesang in an interview with Xinhua Wednesday. "Fifty-three workers are moving the Scriptures and about 10 percent of the job is done."

    But the workers have yet to move the biggest volume, one that is 1.8 meters long and 1.1 meters wide. "As legend goes, even eight strong men together could not lift this giant volume," said Gesang, who predicts difficulty in its moving as the lamasery does not have the right equipment .

    Workers must wearing gloves and masks because the paper most Scriptures were printed on was made of highly toxic tree leafs to ward off insects.

    Besides, the Scripture volumes have been wrapped up carefully with two layers of cloth -- first yellow and then dark, to minimize exposure to the sun, said Gesang.

    Though the new shelves for the Scriptures are only 80 meters away from their former location, the lamasery has tightened management to avoid loss of or damage to the priceless documents.

    "We have a team of lamas on patrol to oversee the moving work and a logbook that registers each volume of the Scriptures that has been moved, with signatures of every person involved in the moving process," he said.

    Gesang and his colleagues have used state-of-the-art technology to maintain constant temperature and humidity at the museum and ensure the new environment is more or less the same as the old one. "There are still slight differences in temperatures, two to three degrees Celsius at the most. Humidity is more or less the same."

    The "Scriptures Wall" in the Sagya Lamasery is said to contain handwritten Scriptures on Tibetan astrology, history, philosophy and religion, but no one knows any detail about their contents.

    Built in 1073, the Sagya Lamasery, located 450 km west of Lhasa, has long enjoyed almost the same prestige as the Dunhuang Grottoes for its large collection of Buddhist Scriptures, valuable porcelain and vivid morals dating back to nearly 1,000 years ago. It is believed to be the birthplace of Sagyapa (Stripped Sect) of Tibetan Buddhism.

    The lamasery is one of the three ancient Tibetan buildings included in China's 330-million-yuan (40 million US dollars) renovation program starting in 2002.

    Also on the list for repairs are the 1,300-year-old Potala Palace and the Norbuglinkha, the winter and summer palaces of the Dalai Lamas. Enditem

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