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Tibetan Buddhist Art furniture & Antiques from the monasteries of the Ser Shong (Golden Valley)
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Upper Sange Monastery

Brief History of the Upper San Ge Monastery

The Upper Senge (Wutun in Chinese) Monastery was started when a group of monks from the partially destroyed lower monastery decided to build at a safer loaction (we do not know if tis was under the direction of a lama or just an independent decision). The Lower Monastery was partially destroyed by mud-slide, as it was and still is adjacent to the steep mountains that are on the east side of the Lion Valley. The Upper monastery was built much closer to the village proper about .7km south of the Lower Monastery, and on the otherside of the main road, away from the edge of the mountains. The monks may have decided that a location further away from the possiblity of a life threatening and building devasting mud-slide was preferable to the Lower Sange site. The relations between the upper and lower monasteries has been very cordial and cooperative until a recent debate over the disposition or ownership of the Thig Mo site surfaced. This is not to imply that there is animosity between the two; quite the opposite, they still loan artists to each other to work on construction and art projects. Both monasteries are subordinate to Rongwu Monastery.

The lay out of the Monastery compound

The monastery is laid out much differently than the Lower Senge Monastery; the main gate leads into a broad drive that is bordered on on side by newly constructed residences and on the other side by vacant land, recently bull dozed, that is the site of more new residential compounds. The temples are at the back of the compound. The Monk's have built a new brick wall all the way around the monastery compound and were in the process of painting it June of 2006.

When reaching cobble courtyard at the back of the compound the Assembly or Prayer hall is straight ahead, with the Shakyamuni Temple to the left of the Assembly hall. To the left of the cobble courtyard is the kitchen, which is really three kitchens; one is for the monks, one is for the villagers to use during festival days and the third is for the monks to use on special days when all of the monks will dine together. On the east side of the cobble courtyart is the Maitreya or Future Buddha temple.

Inside the Shakyamuni temple the visitor is first greated by panels in the altar surrounding the large statue of Shakyamuni, this statue is about 3 stories high and is mounted on an ornate base with SnowLions holding it up. These panels are old art work and the very few old pices of art retained by either of the monasteries. Kal Sang the brother of Tse Rang Dun Zou, one of our featured artists on the Tangka web page, has the duty of caring for this temple for the 2006 year and allowed us to tour the inside.

Kal Sang also gave us a tour of what the new residences are like as he lives in one of them. The lay out is similar to the old ones, the biggest difference is the interior walls are made from brick, cement and covered with glazed ceramic tile. An other difference is the new residences have a built in shrine room with altars built in to the walls.

Tidbits about Upper Sange Monastery

Sha Wo Tse Ring, the elder, is the most famous contemporary monk and artist of the Senge Monasteries. During the winter of 1941-42 to the summer of 1943 Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), a well known Chinese artist sought the help and expertise of 5 Reb Gong (Senge Shong or Lion Valley) to rediscover the techniques of medieval Buddhist Art. Sha Wo Tse Ring, the elder, one of those artists, went on to become a nationally recognized "Master Painter of the Fine Line Painting Style (gongyi meishu huashi) in 1988. When he was taken to the caves at Dunhaung to reproduce the art in the caves Sha wo and the others were instumental in deciphering the meanings and techniques used as they were remarkably similar to that of these Reb Gong artists. Use the following link for additional information http://www.wcas.northwestern.edu/arthistory/SEFColl/Fac-grad-coll-INTRO-&ESSA-SEF.pdf

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