Large Tibetan religious site discovered in Sichuan

Xinhua, February 13, 2005

Sichuan, China -- The discovery of a large Tibetan religious site in Shiqu County in southwest China's Sichuan Province was announced recently.

Located at the source of the Yalong River in remote southern Sichuan, the site was well protected since the area is not easy toget to, said Shi Shuo, a professor on Tibet culture in Sichuan University who discovered the site.

The site, which is 73 meters long, 47 meters wide and 14.5 meters high at the center, has been carefully studied and authenticated by the Sichuan Provincial Relics and Archeology Institute.

It was surrounded by nine-meter walls, dotted with 383 stone Buddha shrines. Inside, there were huge piles of Buddha sculptures and stones engraved with Buddhist sutras.

"Some narrow paths stretch inside the piles. The site is just like a labyrinth," Shi said.

Locals believed the site was related to King Gesser, a Tibetan hero whose exploits have been handed down in songs and stories foreight centuries among the Tibetan people.

"Some tales said the site was built to pay regard to Gesser's spirit and some believed it was used to commemorate the deceased soldiers who died when fighting alongside Gesser at a nearby battlefield," Shi said.

Judging from the Tibetan and Sanskrit sutras on the stones, thesite might date from around the 11th or 12th century, said Gao Dalun, director of Sichuan Provincial Relics and Archeology Institute, calling the site a "stone sculpture museum."

Rocks with engraved sutras are endemic to Tibetan Buddhism and are also related with local worship of rocks. The sculptures and sutra stones are believed to bear the wishes of believers.