China Protects Buddhist Leaf Scriptures
07-24-2018    Xinhuanet.com
<P align=center><EM><BR>Buddhist Scriptures</EM></P>

<P align=center><EM><BR>A bundle of Buddhist scriptures</EM></P>

<P>&nbsp;</P>

<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Xinhuanet.com, July 27</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Lhasa</SPAN></st1:City><SPAN lang=EN-US>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">China--</st1:country-region> Southwest <st1:country-region w:st="on">China</st1:country-region>'s Tibet Autonomous Region has launched a two-year project to study and preserve a bundle of Buddhist scriptures that were written on leaves more than 1,000 years ago and brought to the region from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>.</SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>There are some 4,300 "pages" of the rare tree-leaf Buddhist Sanskrit scripture in 426 volumes, said Hu Chunhua, a top official of the autonomous Region, quoting figures provided by the local cultural heritage administration. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>The documents were brought to <st1:country-region w:st="on">Tibet</st1:country-region> from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> between the 7th and 13th centuries and have remained quite well preserved, said Cewang Jinme, president of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>The scriptures are inscribed on stripes of leaves of the pattra tree which is native to tropical climates and similar to a palm tree. The tree's leaves, which are easily transportable and durable, were used before there was wide access to paper. A steel pen was used to etch the Sanskrit directly on to the leaves, which themselves became a Buddhist symbol of brightness as the scriptures brought enlightenment. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>The inscribed strips contain narratives of ancient Indian literature, legal codes and classic Buddhist writings. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Most of the leaf-inscribed scriptures are stored in major monasteries, museums and research institutes in <st1:City w:st="on">Lhasa</st1:City>, Xigaze and Shannan, said Hu, adding that they are better preserved than others that remained in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region> where many decayed in the hot, humid climate or were lost in wars. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>Hu said Tibetan researchers will carry out a thorough survey of all the scriptures written on pattra tree leaves. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>"Some of the pieces are in the hands of private collectors and smaller monasteries and remain undocumented," said Hu. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>They will also make photocopies of all the documents to facilitate their study by Sanskrit specialists, he said. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>"It's important to train more Sanskrit professionals in order to preserve the ancient documents," said Lhagba Puncog, secretary-general of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">China</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Tibetology</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Research</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Center</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>He said only 10 people in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Tibet</st1:place></st1:country-region> can read the language. Four Tibetan specialists have enrolled in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Beijing</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">University</st1:PlaceType></st1:place> to study Sanskrit and they are expected to later train more language professionals. </SPAN></P>

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<P class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0cm 0cm 0pt"><SPAN lang=EN-US>The preservation project is jointly sponsored by the <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Chinese</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Academy</st1:PlaceType> of Social Sciences and the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">China</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Tibetology</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Research</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Center</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>.</SPAN></P>
Editor: Wang Xinyu
   
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