China vows to invest $45 million in Potala ancient literature protection

  By Xu Keyue

Source: Global Times/People’s Daily
China pledges to invest 300 million yuan ($45 million) in the next 10 years to start its largest-scale protection and digitization project of ancient books in historical landmark Potala Palacea World Heritage site in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
The restoration work involves preventative protection, specific restoration measures, digital preservation and exhibitions of precious ancient documents. It will be undertaken by the Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, under the National Cultural Heritage Administration.
An official from the academy told the Global Times that “the initial project plan will be completed before mid-March”, noting the project was conceptualized in November 2018.
The academy has been to the palace for prophase investigations on the scale of the books in storage and the expected difficulty of the project before Spring Festival (which fell on February 5), said the official.
Research on the ancient books is a long process that involves the joint efforts of experts and departments in related fields. They will prioritize the tasks and accomplish the 10-year project step by step, he said.
Known as the “treasure of Tibetan history and culture”, the Potala Palace has nearly 40,000 pieces of ancient books in various languages including Chinese, Tibetan, Manchu, Mongolian and Sanskrit. The books basically cover all forms of Tibetan ancient works, and the contents can be roughly summarized into Tibetan Buddhism classics, Buddhist biographies, medical and history literature, and drama scripts, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The Cultural Heritage Bureau of the Tibet Autonomous Region has organized related professors and researchers to research and draft a report on items of protection of the Potala ancient books.
In recent years, in order to better protect and make use of the precious books, Tibet has recorded and sorted the original catalogue of ancient books into a digital version.
Local staffs are currently rolling out digital registration for about 2,800 books containing ancient documents in Chinese and Tibetan.

A view of the Potala Palace, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, on Jan.14th
Source: People’s Daily Picture

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