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Buddhist Tomb and Monastery at Tashilhunpo, Tibet


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Founded in 1447 at Shigatse by a disciple of Tsong-kapa (1357-1419), the monastery has a 15th century assembly hall containing the throne of the Panchen Lama. Between 1642-59 the Abbot of Tashilhunpo Monastery received from the Fifth Dalai Lama the title of Panchen Lama or "great scholar."

Its name signifying "mass of glory," and closely associated with the Gelugpa Order, Tashilhunpo has remained the headquarters of the Panchen Lama since the 17th century. During the Manchu Qing dynasty (1644-1912), Chinese backed the Panchen Lama against the Dalai Lama, a political strategy that has been repeated in the recent past.

The monastery, one of the largest left intact in Tibet and one of the few not damaged during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, includes dozens of chapels, tombs, and shrines with Buddhist images, which the visitor may see on tours today.

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[Fig.1: Tomb in the monastery at Tashilhunpo, from a mid-19th century account of Tibet (Huc 1852).]

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