BEIJING, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- China's famous Palace Museum has launched a research center for the study of Tibetan Buddhism by using its rich collection of royal cultural relics over the past five centuries.
The Research Center for Tibetan Buddhist Heritage (RCTBH) of the Palace Museum, better known as the Forbidden City in the heartof Beijing, will focus on the study of the history when the religion was practiced in royal courts of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911 A.D.).
This would form an important part of the study of Tibetan Buddhism, one of three major branches of Buddhism that is still practiced by Tibetans in west China and in neighboring countries including Nepal, Bhutan and India.
The Forbidden City is the world's largest surviving imperial palace complex and served as the home of the emperor and his household, as well as the ceremonial and political center of China from 1420 to the early 20th century.
Because Tibetan Buddhism won support of the imperial rulers, the Forbidden City eventually preserved tens of thousands of pieces of religious relics such as shrines, Buddhist statues, paintings, Buddhist sutra and musical instruments.
These will give the RCTBH, launched last week, a unique advantage to conduct academic research of both the history and thereligion, said a press release provided to Xinhua by the Palace Museum on Tuesday.
The research center was located in the Zhongzheng Hall inside the Forbidden City, which used to be the main venue for Tibetan Buddhist rituals for emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The hall was seriously destroyed in a fire in 1923. It will be completely rebuilt next year thanks to a refurbishment project since 2006.
Seven research institutes on archeology, culture, history or religion from China, the United States, France and Japan have signed agreements with the center on academic exchanges and joint research in future.