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From the Field: Chinese

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Tibetan Monasteries

posted 21 Jul 2011, 07:15 by Web Admins ‎(Ben Caesar)‎   [ updated 21 Jul 2011, 07:34 ]

A Photo Essay: The Diversity of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in today's Qinghai and Gansu provinces.

Author: In 2008, Jane Caple, a WREAC PhD student, returned from an overseas institutional visit at Qinghai Nationalities University in Xining, where she was studying spoken Amdo Tibetan. During the visit, she had the opportunity to visit monasteries in the Amdo Tibetan region, which is incorporated into today's Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan provinces of China. All photos ©Jane Caple, 2008.

This short photo essay aims to provide a glimpse into the diversity of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in today's Qinghai and Gansu provinces. The images and accompanying text show some of the very different physical forms and scales that these institutions take. They also provide some insight into the complex positioning of Tibetan Buddhist institutions in the contemporary world. In some cases there is an obvious juxtaposition of a monastery to modern city life or the tourist industry. In other cases, an apparent impression of remoteness belies the integration of these institutions into modern and global society.

Cing THa monastery (Chinese: Jingta si) in Xining city, Qinghai. Photo: ©Jane Caple, 2008

View over bLa Brang monastery (Chinese: Labuleng si) in Gansu province. bLa Brang is one of the six major Gelugpa monastic universities, and was the site of some of the largest Tibetan protests in March 2008. Photo: ©Jane Caple, 2008

Tibetan Buddhist village temple in Qinghai province. The temple has no resident monks and is maintained by the villagers. Photo: ©Jane Caple, 2008

New main gate at sKu 'Bum monastery (Chinese: Ta'er si) in Qinghai province. sKu 'Bum is one of the two major Gelugpa monasteries in Amdo, along with bLa Brang, and is now a major provincial tourist attraction. The gate contains the ticket office for the monastery and an ATM machine. It was built in the 1990s with funding from Hong Kong film director Sir Run Run Shaw (Shao Yifu). Photo: ©Jane Caple, 2008

Looking down on gNam rDZong nunnery (Chinese: Nanzong nigusi), in Qinghai province. Nam rDZong is one of the largest nunneries in Qinghai, with approximately 150 nuns. Although it is situated in a remote and secluded valley, its location inside a national park means that it is also on a tourist route. Photo: ©Jane Caple, 2008

Shva rDZong Ri KHrod monastery (Chinese: Xiazong si), Ping'an county, Qinghai province. The founder of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, Tsongkhapa, was ordained at this monastery aged three. The monastery now has four attendant monks. Photo: ©Jane Caple, 2008

Gro TSang monastery (Chinese: Qutan si), Ledu county, Qinghai. This monastery is famous for its Ming-style buildings and its murals from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Photo: ©Jane Caple, 2008

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