Labrang Monastery

another view of the streetsLabrang  monastery is one of the most interesting location in China.

In Xiahe city, Amdo area, Gangsu province, has per centuries been the center of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the doors to China Muslims provinces.

In 2008 has been location for some protests. Here the Chinese version of the facts from kind concession of ChinaDaily.com

The town of Xiahe has changed often

From the book A Brief History of Labrang Monastery we can know a bit about the monastery history:

Founded in 1709 by the monk Jam Yang Shad Pa (aka, Jamyang Zhepa, 1648-1721). The name means litterarly Smiling Bodhisattva of Wisdom due to the fact that in early age the monk when arrive in Lhasa as a typical Tibetan customs, he  brought a white silk scarf (kadag) to fold over the statute of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom who, according to the story, started smiling to him.

Today his 6th reincarnation is still alive and lives now a laic life in Langzhou with his wife.

Jam Yang Shad Pa was original from an highlands area not far from the monastery and took the votes around the age of 13th.  At the time he was 21 he moved to Lhasa where he made new progresses in his studies. After many years of study he became one of the main important Buddhist leaders of his time.

A representation of the monk Jam Yang Zhe Pa in a praying paper.

A representation of the monk Jam Yang Zhe Pa in a praying paper.

Contacted by a local Mongolian lord, Jam Yang Shad Pa started a long journey on these lands. When he arrived he gave a lecture to commemorate the day the leader of the Yellow Hat sect, Tsong Ka Pa, build the monastery of Ganden of Lhasa (now in India has been done a copy of the monastery). Because of this commemoration the day of estabilishement of Labrang monastery is March 15th 1709.

Is very fascinating the fact that the local Tibetan landlords  how Jam Yang Shad Pa and his disciples, and supported them by hiring 6 local tribes to support them on building their first prayer hall.

The achievements made by the monk and his community that  by the time of his dead in 1721 his figure and his studies was largely appreciated and used by the main Tibetan community.

The Monastery today:

map_of_labrang_Monastery

A map of the main buildings inside the temple.

residence of the monks

An entrance of a residence of a monk. Is possible to see that even if in perfect condition, the streets still don’t show any address or door number as reference.

The monastery is composed by 6 colleges, 17th temples,  3 chorten (stupa), one library and one printing house the residences of the monks.

streets

A view of the streets around the main streets, after the walls the houses of the monks

The six colleges are:

  1. Buddhist Philosophy College;
  2. Lower Tantric College;
  3. Kalachakara College;
  4. Medicine College;
  5. Upper Tantric College;

The main and oldest monastery in Labrang is the Golden Temple (Ser Kan Chen Mo) build in 1788. Many others are the temples in the area such as the Lion Roar Temple and Jam Yang Temple.

Golden Temple

A picture of the Golden Temple in the morning.

The accommodations for the monks are around 700 houses. Event though the area belongs to Labrang Monastery, the monks residence can be sold and bought by the monks, even build by themselves after obtaining the permission of the monastery.  The streets around the monks houses don’t have any in address or indication to recognize the house. The buildings are mostly new, even though built in traditional way, but still is possible to see a few which have been built before 1958, the year when the monastery has been closed for a few decades.

Kora

An old woman walking between the praying pillars (kora)

Here is possibile to see some old pictures

An old picture of the monastery from the valley

Some more beautiful pictures of the monastery during some processions before 1950s.

Daily life in Labrang

Old Market inside the Monastery

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