Dege Scripture Printing Lamasery
Dating back from over 250 years, Dege Scripture Printing Lamasery is nestled in a valley east of Chola Mountain in Sichuan Province of China, close to the Tibetan border. Historic Tibetan printing blocks and scriptures are housed in the Lamasery today. Fantastic landscapes can be seen as one approaches the valley, guarded by the majestic Chola Mountain.
Originally built during the Qing Dynasty, the printing house is situated on the Jinsha River. The present building was built in 1744, however, the original lamasery was built by the 42nd prefect of Dege prior to that time.
It is estimated that over 70 percent of the material related to Tibet's heritage is stored there. Considered one of the most important Tibetan lamaseries, Dege gives an insight into Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. A green Avalokiteshavra is the Goddess protecting today's lamasary from floods, fire and earthquakes and welcomes visitors.
The Dege Scripture Printing Lamasery is a trip back in time to the see living tradition and history.
The Sichuan-Tibet Highway goes through the area as it connects Chengdu with Lhasa. However, the traveler would take the daily bus from Kāngdìng for Dégé at 7:15 am; the bus stops overnight in Lúhuò. This trip takes 24 hours and costs Y166.
Although the route crosses through mountains and over rivers, it is quite picturesque and lively, with locals getting on and off the bus. With a 600m mountain pass, it is also quite exciting and scenic.
Additionally, there are buses from Gānzī every few days at a cost of Y60, and these take approximately 15 hours. Minivans can also be hired that are private, from Gānzī and cost Y450.
Over 215,000 printing plates made of hardwood are housed there today; Tibetan sutras and works from the ancient past of Tibet are part of the collection. Writings are in Hindu, Tibetan and Sanskrit, and a history of Indian Buddhism can be found.
Ancient work on subjects such as geography, music, astronomy, medicine and classics all relating to Buddhism are housed here.
The Lamasery Today
Used as the source of over 2500 printings of scriptures today, the visitor can watch the vigorous energy that is used to produce these printings. Using paper and brushses, the tradition of hand production continues. The upstairs area is where prayer flags are printed on colored fabric; these are the flags ones sees throughout Tibet.
A traveler can have a flag printed for a price of 10 yuan to bring home as a reminder of the visit.
A colorful bus ride will take the visitor into Dege and the Valley. At one point, a crowd of Tibetans will enter the bus and throw colorful papers containing Tibetan prayers out the bus window while chanting. Travelers bring home many wonderful pictures from the region and countryside.
I updated this article on July 5, 2012
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