Zhaxi Lhunbo Monastery [扎什伦布寺]
Xigaze [日喀则], Tibet [西藏]
May 5, 2007

Built in 1447 in the second largest city of Tibet by the 1st Dalai Lama [达赖喇嘛一世] (1391-1474), the Zhaxi Lhunbo Monastery is the largest temple of the Yellow Sector [黄教] in rear Tibet [后藏]. It has later become the headquarter of the Penchan Lamas [班禅大师们]. The Yellow sector is the largest of the five sectors of Tibetan Buddhism.

The Dalai and Penchan Lamas constitute two parallel reincarnation systems of the Yellow Sector. The 1st Penchan Lama and the 1st Dalai Lama were respectively the 3rd and the last students of the sector founder Tsong Kha-pa [宗喀巴]. The two Lamas are believed by the Tibetans to be the reincarnations of Buddha Amitaba [无量光佛] and Bodhisattava Avalokitesvara [观世音菩萨].

The monatery consists of four main halls, two of which house the Stupa Tombs of the Penchan Lamas. The largest Tomb belongs to the 4th Penchan Lama [四世班禅大师] (1567-1662), who was the mentor of the 5th Dalai Lama [五世达赖喇嘛] (1617-1682) (who claims the largest Stupa Tomb in the Potala Palace). The tomb is 11m high, using 135kg of gold, 1150kg of silver, 34,000kg of copper, and 7000 marbles, pearls, and diamonds.

But the largest hall in the monastery houses a statue of Buddha Maitreya [强巴佛殿] (photo) which is 22.4m high sitting on a 3.8m-high lotus. Its middle fingers are 1.2m long and its shoulders 11.5m wide. The statue was built using 279kg of gold, 115,000kg of copper, 300 pearls, and 1,400 marbles. It took 900 skilled workers 9 years to finish the project. The Buddha statue was built to rival the religious sector in frontal Tibet [前藏] governed by the Dalai Lama in Lhasa [拉萨].

1st (leftmost) hall houses a 26.2m-high statue of Buddha Maitreya (photo). 2nd hall houses the Stupa Tomb of the 10th Penchan Lama [十世班禅大师], who passed away in 1989; 3rd hall houses the Stupa Tomb of the 4th Penchan Lama [四世班禅大师]; and 4th hall (rightmost) is used for studying Buddhist sutras.

Three Stupas
wall for displaying a huge painting [唐卡] of the Buddha [晒佛台]

a young and adorable monk

two lamas

Yan-Bin Jia