Lost Treasures of Tibet

Dec 7, 2023 | History, Videos

The NOVA documentary Lost Treasures of Tibet offers a rare and special glimpse into the incredibly rich and unique artistry of Tibetan craftsmen, dating back centuries before Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper. Immersed in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Mustang, this team of conservationists embarks on a journey to restore these ancient masterpieces and their historic monasteries.

Located in present-day Nepal, Mustang is home to some of the last remaining relics from an almost vanished world of traditional Buddhist culture. Unfortunately, due to Chinese occupation since 1950, thousands of monasteries across the border in Tibet have been destroyed. Thus making Mustang’s monasteries or gompas even more important to protect and preserve. However, years of neglect, weather and earthquakes have caused many buildings to be on the brink of collapse. The exquisite murals inside are also in ruins.

The international team headed by British conservationist John Sanday encountered a rather cultural clash during their restoration work when local people wanted missing sections of murals completed but Westerners were shocked at such a thought as they believed it was wrong to worship unfinished deities.

The main focus was on Thubchen, which is considered as the greatest gompa located in Mustang’s capital Lo Monthang. The major challenge was fixing its roof, as two hundred tons dirt had been piled up over centuries to seal out leaks; however this could only be possible if its hidden ceiling beams were more than two feet thick! This presented an impossibility due to lack of trees in Mustang but Sanday managed to uncover an elaborate jigsaw solution which allowed for 200 tons weight bearing capacity while keeping its structural integrity intact!

Lost Treasures Of Tibet offers stunning visuals along with a captivating storyline that dives deep into the historical aspects along with cultural implications that comes with restoring ancient artworks and places of worship like Thubchen. It is an absolute must watch documentary for anyone who loves learning about history or appreciates art and culture!

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David B