Sunday, July 29, 2007

AHF Project: Buddhist Monastery Restoration, Champa

Politically part of Nepal, but culturally and geographically Tibetan, Mustang (also know as the ancient Kingdom of Lo) is in a remote part of the country along the border with Tibet. AHF has many projects there...

Mustang sceneryFrom the AHF web site:
Nine years ago, AHF started a race against time. In the fabled kingdom of Lo, called Mustang in the west, spectacular gompas built in the fifteenth century were on the verge of collapse. Earthquakes, weather and time had taken their toll on these Tibetan Buddhist cathedrals; portions of the roofs were sagging, soot and dust obscured the sacred images, and sections of some of the 20-foot paintings were hanging like curtains, literally detaching from the walls.

The daunting mission: to restore them. Without careful intervention, these rare treasures would be lost forever.

Restoration architect John Sanday, always up for a challenge, led the AHF team of carpenters and wall-painting conservators. Together, season by season, the team painstakingly restored the structures and the astonishingly beautiful wall paintings. As they went, they trained a local Loba team in the art and science of conservation: replacing roofs, fixing twisted structures and meticulously removing centuries of black grime from the paintings.

Thubchen Gompa, Champa Gompa, Lo Gekar, Tsarang Gompa and two giant chortens have all been rescued. As work draws to a close, the results are stunning. And, as important, the Loba community has new connection to their heritage and 100 new local artisans have the skills they need to save other treasures.
champa mandala
A carefully restored mandala painting in Champa, an ancient Tibetan Buddhist monastery AHF is helping to refurbish
(Both photos copyright American Himalayan Foundation, used with permission)

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