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Sakya Monastery

Sakya Monastery is located in the Sagya County, 149 kilometers from Xigaze. It comprises the Southern and Northern monasteries and got its name for the Northern.

The Northern Monastery was founded by Khon Konchog Gyalpo in 1073, from which Sakyapa rose and once ruled Tibet. Because the monastery was built by a chalky hill, it was named Sakya, meaning chalky earth in Tibetan. Its walls were painted in red, white and grey strips, which represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani respectively. The Northern Monastery was damaged now, but the ruins still reflect its glory and splendor.

The Southern Monastery was built by in 1268 by the fifth Sakya Throne Holder, Drogon Chogyal Phakpa, who was the spiritual guide of Kublai khan. The floor space of the monastery occupies 14,700 square meters, and its surrounding wall is five meters high and nearly two meters thick. On each of the four corners stands a watch tower. The main hall occupies 5,700 square meters, and 40 red pillars support the ceiling. In the largest renovation during the Pagba time, a number of craftsmen were sent for from the inland, thus making the Sagya Monastery a combination of Tibetan, Mongolian and Han architectural styles with obvious influences from the Tibetan religion.

The Sagya Monastry is proclaimed the Second Dunhuang. Besides statues of Buddhas, the hall houses the greatest religious library in Tibet, containing tens of thousands of sutras written in Tibetan, Chinese, Mongolian, and Sanskrit. A wood book cabinet, which is 57.2 meters long, 11 meters high, 1.3 meters wide, has 464 book shelves, on which are thousands of volumes on Buddhism. The most precious is Buddhist scripture Burde Gyaimalung, which is 1.8 meters long, 1.03 meters wide and 0.67 meters thick. This omus opus describes the religion, history, philosophy, literature, agriculture and animal husbandry in Tibet.

The Sagya Monastry has countless murals, mostly of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). The murals depict Buddhist stories, portraits of Princes of Dharma of Sagya through the dynasties, Pagba's meeting with Kubla Khan and the construction scene of the Sagya Monastery. Among them, murals of mandalas and former Sakya Throne Holders are the most outstanding.

The Sagya Monastry also houses great amounts of cultural relics including the titles, seals, crowns, garments and ornaments awarded by the Yuan imperial court to the local officials, ritual instruments and porcelains from the Song, Yuan and other later dynasties, and the precious murals of historical themes.

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