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Not a real lamasery,
but an amazing simulation!


Ground plan to be added soon


Name: Lamasery replica; as far as I know, it is unnamed. 
Main figures: Shakyamuni (the historic Buddha), flanked by Milefo (Maitreya) and Jiaye (Mahakasyapa)
Other figures: Figures representing the four main sects of Tibetan Buddhism (see Gallery) and 16 Arhats.  Also, frescoes (as yet unidentified).
"History":   The "Lamasery" is located in a theme park, the China Folk Culture Villages, in Shenzhen, China.  The park was opened in late 1991, and features "villages" of some of 55 China's ethnic minorities, in a Disney-esque setting.  It is not an active temple, but rather something like a museum display.  Nevertheless, it is as close as I've yet come to the "real thing," and I find it fascinating.
Description:   The "Lamasery" is a single, large, two-story hall. As one enters, the three main figures are straight ahead, flanked by four secondary figures, two on the left and two on the right (the so-called "founders," but see below).  In front of the main triad are three more figures.  Ranged along both sides of the room are the sixteen arhats, eight to the side.  Frescoes decorate most of the walls, and even the pillars are extremely ornate.  All of this is for show; no authentic worship is held here.
Festivals:   The China Folk Culture Villages park hosts frequent events and promotions year-round, some of which are styled "Festivals" but are in fact only tourist events.
Additional features: The "Lamasery" is located in the "Tibet" area of the park; there are prayer cairns and pennants, and a Tibetan-style "house" nearby.  Don't miss the prayer wheels around the front porch of the "Lamasery." 
Getting there:   The China Folk Culture Villages and Splendid China Park are located on Shennan Boulevard in Overseas Chinese Town in the center of Shenzhen.  They are well-served by bus and taxi.
Also in the area: Splendid China (same 120RMB admission fee as China Folk Culture Villages), Window of the World, and Happy Valley theme parks.
About the photos: All photos on this page are copyright 2005 by James Baquet


click photo to enlarge

The Exterior

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The nearby "Tibetan house" The front of the "Lamasery" A prayer cairn

The Main Altar

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Tsongkapa, Milarepa Milefo, Shakyamuni, Jiaye
White Dumu, Four-armed Goddess of Mercy, Green Dumu
Pandita, Padmasambhava

Identification of the figures began with signage in the "Lamasery," then Internet research to figure out who they meant.  THESE IDENTIFICATIONS ARE EXTREMELY TENTATIVE.

The signage gives the three central figures as Sakyamuni, "on the right Jiaye and the left Mile..."  I understand that the central figure would be Shakyamuni, the Historic Buddha, a very popular figure in Tibetan Buddhism.  And "Mile" is clearly Mi-le-fo, the buddha-to-Come.  From what I can gather from the Net, "Jiaye" is Mahakasyapa, one of the Buddha's key disciples.  Why he is featured here is not clear to me, as I can find nothing on the "typical" Tibetan altar (yet).

The central figure in front of the main triad is the "Four-armed Goddess of Mercy"--Avalokiteshvara, or the Chinese Guan Yin; the dalai Lama is considered to be a reincarnation of this key Bodhisattva.  She is flanked by the White and Green "Dumus," which the sign says means in Tibetan "Savior, the Mother Buddha."  presumably these are the well-known White Tara and Green Tara, uniquely Tibetan figures closely associated with Avalokiteshvara.  Read more about the Taras here.

The four figures on the side are identified by the signage as "founders" oif the four sects.  This is not strictly the case, but the four figures represented are each in turn associated with one of the sects.  Wading through the bad transcriptions we get (left to right above):

  • "Zongkaba"=Tsongkapa, founder of the Gelug-pa ("pa" means school).  These are called "The Yellow Hats," and the figure is shown wearing one.

  • Milariba=Milarepa, a renowned poet of the Kagyu-pa.  Several images on the net depict Milarepa with his hand to his ear, as here.

  • Bahzhida=Pandita.  THIS IS ONLY A GUESS, but "Sakya Pandita" is the great teacher of the Sakya-pa.  As the signage gives his school as "Sajia," I'm pretty sure I at least have the right school.  And that the opening B=P and the final -ida=ita feels right.  Images of Sakya Pandita on the net show him holding something that looks like a shell in his left hand, as here.

  • Lianhuasheng= Padmasambhava, regarded as the Nyingma-pa founder.  I know that both "Lianhua" and "Padma" mean "lotus," so I assume they have simply translated the Sanskrit name to Chinese.  He is wearing the Red Hat after which the Nyingma-pa are nicknamed.

The Arhats

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I have simply shown some of the figures here; no attempt has yet been made at identifying the individual arhats by name.

Some Frescoes

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No idea who they are, but they look very Tibet-y, don't they?




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