Tibetan Monasteries

A video travelogue about the most important Tibetan Buddhist Universities and Art Centers of Northwest-China.

Tibetans are often cited as the most religious people in the world. Their Buddhist beliefs have inspired them to construct spectacular monasteries which rank among the most important cultural and architectural achievements in Asia. The buildings are focal points for a faith that teaches peace, compassion and respect for all living things, and are inhabited by monks who make the study of these virtues a lifelong occupation.
The monasteries of Tibet suffered heavy losses during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. Luckily some difficult-to-reach monasteries survived; however the buildings and the level of preserving religious arts and handcrafts have been poorly maintained. Nowadays in China religious practice is not only permitted, but is undergoing a great revival. All over the Tibetan plateau monasteries are again opening their doors to prospective students. Coincident with this boom are strong activities of rebuilding the monasteries and Buddhist art schools to re-open their doors to huge numbers of students.
Ironically, it's this rebuilding effort that places Tibet's finest architectural achievements and its arts and handcrafts in great danger. As well Tibetans but also the new upcomming Chinese Tourism industry are very eager to get monasteries up and running again, while old structures are gutted and rebuilt using non-traditional materials and art techniques. The "exploding" Chinese Tourism industry is going to drastically influence and change the surrounding areas, the infrastructure of the monasteries and their neighbourhoods due to future mass tourism expected for these highly attractive travel destinations.

The travel video records the actual situation of these drastic changes during a visit to the most important Buddhist monasteries of the Northwestern-Chinese provinces of Qinghai and Gansu in October 2009:
Tongren (Tibetan: Rebkong), Qinghai Province and the Rebkong valley are famous for their art schools for Tibetan Buddhist Art. Wutong Monastery is the center for Buddhist Thangka paintings. The works of the artists are ordered by Buddhist Monasteries all over the world, because of the exceptional high quality of the paintings. These elaborate Buddhist works of art have been created here for centuries, and the town is still considered the best place in the Tibetan world to study Thangka Painting or to buy Thangkas.
Labrang Monastery is one of the six great monasteries of the Geluk (Yellow Hat) school of Tibetan Buddhism. Labrang is located in Xiahe County, Gansu province of Northwest-China, the traditional Tibetan area of Amdo. Labrang Monastery is home to the biggest Tibetan University and largest number of monks outside of Tibet Autonomous Region.

some parts of this text are extracted from http://www.asianart.com/cers/

 

Copyright 2010 mickspatz