Potala Palace

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Potala Palace, 布达拉宫, bu da la gong

In early December 1994, the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet was included in the world heritage list.

Potala Palace is a famous palace museum type building in essence of the Mt. Buri hill in the northwest of Lhasa, Tibet.

The Potala Palace was built in the 7th century a.d. by Songzan Ganbu, the king of Tibet, for Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty, who married far away to Tibet. The Potala Palace, a palace with 999 houses, was built on the red mountain at an altitude of more than 3700 meters in Lhasa. Palace built by the mountain, now covers an area of 410 thousand square meters, with a floor area of 130 thousand square meters, 13 main floors of the palace, 115 meters high, all of which are stone wood structures, 5 palace top covered with gold and copper tiles, bright and magnificent, and are the essence of Tibetan ancient architectural art. Known as the temple of the plateau.

Potala Palace is the winter palace of successive Dalai Lamas and the ruling center of the unity of politics and religion of local rulers in Tibet in the past. Since the fifth Dalai Lama, major religious and political ceremonies have been held here. At the same time, it is also a place to worship the spiritual pagoda of successive Dalai lamas.

The Potala Palace is built against the mountain, with overlapping buildings, towering temples and majestic momentum. The solid granite wall with thick piers, the resplendent golden roof, and the huge gilt gold bottles, buildings and prayer flags with strong decorative effect complement each other. There is a sharp contrast of red, white and yellow colors. It is an architectural body built by sections and connected layer by layer, All reflect the charming characteristics of Tibetan ancient buildings. Potala Palace is an outstanding representative of Tibetan Architecture and the essence of ancient Chinese architecture.

The design and construction of the palace are based on the law of sunlight in the plateau area. The wall base is wide and solid, and there are tunnels and vents extending in all directions under the wall base. There are columns, brackets, sparrows, beams, rafters, etc. in the house to form a brace. The hard soil called "Arga" is used to pave the floor and cover the roof. There are skylights on the top of each hall and bedroom to facilitate daylighting and mediate the air. There are various carvings on the columns and beams in the palace, and the colored murals on the walls cover an area of more than 2500 square meters.

The palace also collects Tangka unique to Tibet and painted on cotton and silk, as well as cultural relics of previous dynasties. The Potala Palace was included in the national key cultural relics protection unit in 1961 and was fully built in 1989.

It is said that this magnificent palace originated in the 7th century. At that time, Songzan Ganbu, king of Tibet, built 1000 nine story palaces on the red mountain, named Potala Palace, in order to marry Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty. After the demise of the Tubo Dynasty established by Songzan Ganbu, most of the ancient palaces and castles were destroyed by war. The reconstruction of the Potala Palace began in 1645 after the fifth Dalai Lama established the kadanpozhang Dynasty in the 17th century and was officially designated as the local political and religious leader of Tibet by the Qing government. Since then, successive Dalai Lamas have successively expanded, so the Potala Palace has become today's scale.

The palaces are stacked with twists and turns and organically integrated with the mountains, which is the most direct feeling of the Potala Palace. Its appearance has 13 layers, from the foot of the mountain to the top of the mountain. The overall building is mainly composed of the White House in the East (the part where the Dalai Lama lives), the Red Palace in the middle (the Buddha Hall and the stupa Hall of the Dalai Lamas of previous dynasties) and the white monk's room in the West (the residence of the trusted lamas serving the Dalai Lama). There is also a white wall in front of the Red Palace, which is the place to hang large Buddha statues on the day of Buddhist festivals.

As the holy land of Tibetan Buddhism, there are countless pilgrims and tourists to the Potala Palace every year. They usually start from the wordless stone tablet at the foot of the mountain, pass through the zigzag stone paved slope road, and reach the East Gate painted with four giant King Kong murals, and then enter the main hall through the palace wall tunnel with a thickness of 4 meters.

On the hillside, there is a 1600 square meter platform, which is a place for Dalai Lamas to watch songs and dances. It is called "Deyang building". From this escalator, through the dasongge corridor, you can reach the East Hall of the largest palace in the White House. According to historical records, since the emperor Shunzhi of the Qing Dynasty granted the fifth Dalai Lama with a gold book and seal in 1653, the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama must be officially canonized by the central government, and the minister stationed in Tibet presided over the ceremony of sitting in bed and being in power. This is the place where the Dalai Lamas of all previous dynasties took their beds and attended the grand ceremony of Pro government and other major religious and political activities.

The Red Palace is the Dalai Lama's stupa hall and various Buddhist halls. There are 8 stupas in total, of which the fifth Dalai Lama is the first and largest. According to records, 119000 taels of gold were used to wrap the pagoda alone, and the treated Dalai Lama's body was preserved in the pagoda. The West Hall is the enjoying Hall of the fifth Dalai Lama's stupa hall. It is the largest palace in the Red Palace. In addition to the plaque of "the first land of Yonglian" given by Emperor Ganlong, a pair of large beautiful curtains given by Emperor Kangxi are also preserved in the hall, which are rare treasures in the Potala Palace. It is said that Emperor Kangxi specially built a workshop to weave this pair of curtains, which took a year to weave. Go upstairs from the West Hall to qujie Zhupu (i.e. Songzan Ganbu Xiufa cave) through the gallery. This 7th century building is one of the oldest buildings in the Potala Palace. There are statues of Songzan Ganbu, Princess Wencheng and their ministers. The highest palace in the Red Palace is called sasong Langjie (meaning shengsanjie), which honors the portrait of emperor Ganlong of the Qing Dynasty and the memorial tablet of "long live". Since about the seventh Dalai gesanggyatso, Dalai Lamas of all generations have come here every year to worship the emperor's memorial tablet in the early morning of the third day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, so as to show their subordinate relationship to the emperor.

Today, the Potala Palace in people's eyes can feel its uniqueness both in its stone and wood staggered construction mode and in terms of the cultural connotation contained in the palace itself. It always seems to impress people who have been here. Unified granite wall body; Design of wooden roof and window eaves; All the gilt decorations of copper tiles, as well as the ridge decorations made by scriptures, Aquarius, Capricorn fish and golden winged birds... All these perfectly cooperate to make the whole palace look magnificent. The murals in the main hall are also a unique scenery in the Potala Palace. In this huge painting art corridor, it records not only the development history of Tibetan Buddhism, but also the life of the fifth Dalai Lama, the process of Princess Wencheng entering Tibet, as well as the ancient architectural image of Tibet and a large number of Buddha statues, such as King Kong. It is not too much to say that it is a precious historical picture.

The unique Potala Palace is also sacred. Because whenever I mention it, I will naturally think of Tibet. In people's hearts, this ancient architectural complex, which condenses the wisdom of the Tibetan working people and witnesses the cultural exchange between Han and Tibet, has absolutely become a symbol of the Tibetan nation with its magnificent posture and the status of a holy land of Tibetan Buddhism.

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