China to restore 500-year-old frescos in Tibet

500-year-old frescos to be revamped
Beijing, July 15: Chinese experts will soon start a massive drive to restore a group of valuable frescos in Tibet that have been exposed to over 500 years of deterioration.

Authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region will launch the repair job on the frescos gracing the three-meter-high walls of the Qoide Monastery in Shannan Prefecture.

The drive is expected to be launched in November, said Gesang, deputy director of the monastery's management committee. The project, funded by the regional government, will cost over USD 9.77 lakh, Gesang told state-run Xinhua news agency.

A renowned Tibetan artist spent 14 years creating the paintings after the monastery was established in 1464. The painter was the founder of mKhyen-brtse style, a mainstream Tibetan traditional painting school which is famed for its landscapes drawn with dark mineral pigments.

Suffering significant natural deterioration, the delicate paintings have cracked, with their colours fading or changed, said Qamba Cering, deputy head of Shannan Prefecture's cultural heritage bureau. In addition, there has also been significant damage caused by humans that has stained the paintings' surface layer, Qamba said.

The Qoide Monastery, which is a prominent temple for Tibetan Buddhism's Sakya Sect, now preserves the vast majority of mKhyen-brtse-style wall paintings in Tibet as their painter was born and raised in a village near the monastery, said Gesang.

Among all the paintings in the temple, one depicting "six great divisions in the Wheel of Dharma" is the most valuable because of the unique subject it features, Gesang said. "Traditionally, it's images of Buddhas that dominate Tibetan frescos."

In March, a revamp of the Qoide Monastery with an investment of over 8 million yuan kicked off in preparation for the frescos' restoration, said Gesang.

After the restoration work is completed, more efforts will be made to improve the monastery's fire equipment and sewage discharge facilities, as well as its surrounding environment, the official said.

"Hopefully, the precious frescos will reopen to the public in two to three years," he said.


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