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Prestigious Tibetan monastery receives facelift

By Cheng Yunjie (Xinhua)

07:53, September 14, 2012

LANZHOU, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Tibetan Buddhist clergymen are actively participating in a government-funded renovation project for a centuries-old monastery in northwest China.

The renovation of the Labrang Monastery in Gansu Province's Xiahe county, funded by the government at a cost of 305 million yuan (about 48 million U.S. dollars), will be completed in 7 to 8 years, said Sonam Je, deputy chief of the county's culture bureau.

Sonam said the long timetable is due to the prudent approach taken by both local cultural authorities and the Labrang clergy, as hasty renovations could ruin the 303-year-old monastery, a religious and cultural center for Tibetans living in Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan provinces.

"We are both under a lot of pressure to make this renovation successful. The monastery was built perfectly the first time and many people are waiting to see what happens," Sonam said.

Since renovations of this scale have never been organized in Xiahe before, local authorities have made sure to fully involve the clergy and solicit them for suggestions and advice.

"The clergy have offered a great deal of good advice, such as where to begin the preliminary renovations, as well as where to find the best building materials and carpenters," the official said.

The monastery's cultural relic management committee has been entrusted with the task of monitoring the entire project, while a special team has been set up to learn from successful renovations that have taken place elsewhere, such as the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region.

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