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Special> China's Tibet: Facts & Figures> Culture/Customs
UPDATED: October 30, 2008  

In December 2006, the project of compiling the first punctuated Buddhist sutra, Tripitaka, was launched. The book A New Edition of Tripitaka in Chinese with 300 million characters and 300-plus volumes not only played a key role in the development of Buddhism, but also exerted far-reaching impact in many fields such as philosophy, history, nationality, language, literature, art and astronomy. Its contents are double that of the Japanese Taisho Tripitaka, with the most complete varieties of sutras.

Protection of Cultural Relics

Tibet is one of the provincial-level regions in China richly endowed with historical and cultural relics. A rough calculation shows there are more than 2,000 cultural relic sites in the region, 35 subject to national protection, 48 to regional protection and 168 to prefectural and county level protection. Lhasa City, Xigaze City and Gyangze county seats are rated by the PRC State Council as national historical and cultural cities subject to special protection. And the Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery and Norbu Lingka have been listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites. The past 20 years have seen investment of over 700 million Yuan by the State effectively protecting the important historical and cultural heritage of Tibet.

According to Tsering Puntsok, a researcher of the Folk Custom Research Institute of the Academy of Social Science of the TAR, an expert who has been engaged in the research of Tibetan culture for some 20 years, Tibet continued to implement the policy of "putting protection and rescue first, rational utilization and strengthening management" in 2007. The local financial department allocated more funds for the protection of cultural relics. The project for protection of the three cultural relics namely Potala Palace, Norbu Lingka and Sagya Monastery went smoothly. So far, some 134 sub-items of the project have been launched, 129 of which have been completed and passed inspection, with an investment of 256 million Yuan, accounting for 77 percent. The project is expected to complete in 2008. In addition, much headway was also made in the aspects of renovation of the surrounds of the Potala Palace, investigation of cultural relics along the section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in Tibet and construction of the laws and regulations concerning cultural relics, such as registration, archives construction and fire control, and so on. From 2008, the Central Government and the TAR government will prepare to invest 570 million Yuan in the project of repairing 22 monasteries and ancient buildings of cultural relics. This includes a fund of 10 million Yuan for the maintenance of key ancient buildings such as the Shankang Hall and Riwochichin Golden Dagoba; a raised fund of more than 2 million Yuan for the protective repair of over ten cultural relics units such as Gyirulhakang and Zhatang Monastery; and a special fund of 5 million Yuan for the protection and repair of the Kwan Tai Monastery, Inscriptions by Tang Dynasty Envoy Sent to Emperor Tianzu in Gyilung and the Garcho Monastery in Yadong. In order to collect folk cultural relics, the government of the autonomous region invested more than 3 million Yuan, collecting 1,326 articles of various cultural relics and establishing archives for them.

Tibetan Buddhist worshippers.

Currently, Tibet has 35 cultural relics units under State protection.

Intangible Cultural Heritage

Since the 1980s, the TAR and each prefecture and city under it have set up institutions to rescue, rearrange and study ethnic cultural heritage, and sent out investigation groups successively to make comprehensive investigations and conduct interviews in the urban areas, villages and temples. The year 2007 saw greater efforts to protect intangible cultural heritage, preserving and carry forward the excellent traditional culture in Tibet. A large number of staff members interviewed folk handicraftsmen, transcribing audiovisual materials and taking pictures. Meanwhile, they published academic papers regarding the traditional culture of Tibetan ethnic group and brought out works on the ethnic culture research. In May 2007, the second group of 83 items was designated, including Mantsikhang Tibetan Hospital, the Astronomical Calendar, and so on. Those were selected from more than 130 items submitted, divided into 10 kinds such as folk music, folk dance and folk handicrafts. In regard to the famous Legend of King Gesar, the longest epic in the world, the regional government has established an institute and made investments to rescue it since 1979. So far, there have been 130 editions recited and sung by 57 actors and 90 written editions of the epic. More than 30 books regarding it have also been published.

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