Samye Monastery

Samye Monastery
Samye Monastery-the first monastery with Buddhist sutras and lamas in Tibet.

Samye Monastery is located at the foot of Harbor Mountain on the north bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River in Zanang County and 38 kilometers from the town of Zetang. Built in the mid-8th century, the monastery's site was chosen by Padmasambhave, founder of the Nyingma Sect. Trion Desna, 38th Tubo Tsampo, presided over its foundation ceremony. After its completion, Trion Destin invited renowned Buddhist masters Buddhist masters from Central China, Northwest China and India to preach Buddhism in Tibet. He ordered seven Tubo noblemen to become lamas. Thus the Samye Monastery became the first monastery with Buddhist sutras and lamas in Tibetan history. The monastery is famous throughout the world with its architecture combining features of Tibetan, Han and Indian styles.

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Samye Monastery
Centered on its main hall, the monastery covers 8.7 hectares. The main hall takes up 6000 square meters and faces east. On the second floor which is also the top floor of the main hall, the construction has no supporting columns. On four sides of the main hall are four adjacent halls which represent different deities in Buddhism. Nearby the four halls are still two smaller halls, one of which was Tibet's first formal scripture translation institute. On the walls of the eastern, western and southern corridors, dozens of murals depict how the translators from far and near gathered here to translate Buddhist scriptures. There are black, white, green and red pagodas outside the main hall which also have their symbolic meaning. The main hall has two layers of walls which have doors on four sides. On the walls of the halls and corridors are murals about the folk life in the Tubo era, such as acrobatic, dancing and sports contest. There are also precious layouts drawing of the early Samye Monastery. The walls of the monastery form an oval circle. At 3.5 meters high, the wall is 1.2 meters thick. The wall is full of small Buddhist stops, while four large towers stand guard at four corners.

Samye Monastery
At the southern wall outside the eastern gate of the main hall is a column-shaped stone tablet measuring 3.8 meters tall on a 0.8-meter tall base. With the name "Pledge to Develop Buddhism Tablet," it was erected soon after the main hall's completion. The 21 columns of Tibetan words engraved on the tablet record how the Tubo royal family fully supported the development of Buddhism. On the lintel of the main hall's front gate hangs a horizontal tablet inscribed with the words" Ge lu qie lan" (Grand Samgharama Monastery). The tablet was granted by a Qing Dynasty emperor to the monastery. The bronze bell facing the tablet was a gift from the third wife of Trion Detsan. Measuring 1.1 meter tall and 0.55 meter in diameter, the bronze bell's top is inscribed with two circles of Tibetan words in relief about the reason of creating this bell and the prayers. The bell's creation was supervised by master monks from Central China. It is said that it can produce nine different tunes.

There is a great volume of stone carvings in the monastery. The 1500 carving touch a wide range of subjects. On both sides of the main hall's front gate are a pair of stone lions and a pair of white marble elephants. With gentle lines and simple but powerful shape, they are mastery works of the Tang Dynasty.

Since 1981, the Chinese Government has spent 12 million yuan (US$1.45 million) and 50 kilograms of gold to repair the monastery.