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A visit to the Kumbum Monastery

(People's Daily Online)

08:13, July 12, 2012

Edited and translated by Xue Meng, People's Daily Online

Kumbum Monastery, also known as Ta'er Si, is a Buddhist monastery in Qinghai province. Originated in 1379 from a pagoda, the monastery has a history of more than 600 years. It is located about 26 kilometers southwest of Xining and is set among flowing wheat fields and fertile hills. It is one of the two most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries outside Tibet itself. It is a harmonious collection of beautiful and varied examples of classic architecture combining Han and Tibetan styles, the later clearly dominating.

The most symbolic architecture in the monastery is the eight pagodas of Buddha Sakyamuni (Lotus, Bodhi, Turning Dharma Wheel, Conquering Heresies, Rebirth, Peace, Victory and Nirvana), which were built in 1776 to commemorate the events in the life of Sakyamuni. Another famous item in this monastery is the yak butter sculpture called "Suyouhua". Made from yak butter, the sculptures bring to life Buddha, animals and flowers, varying from a few meters tall to less than a centimeter. Every year, there is a grand butter sculpture shown on the night of January 15 on the lunar calendar and lamas usually get busy preparing with this show three months ahead.

The Kumbum monastery is indeed a repository of Tibetan culture and art and really worth visiting.

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