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Books on Dolpo

Literature on Dolpo and on the Bon religion.

Ringmo Monastery – Thasung Tsholing Gompa

The monastery Thasung Tsholing Gompa in Tsho (tib. mTsho = nep. Ringmo) conists of a group of nine houses and is situated at the steep eastern shore of Phoksumdo Lake, a 15 minutes walk from the village Ringmo. Above the monastery is a steep rockwall and below it the shore lapses down into the water.

The name of Thasung Tsholing Gompa (mTha bshi mTha' srung mTsho gling dgon) is derived from the monastery's special history and locality. According to oral transmission many hunters used to chase their prey into that rocky edge (mtha') from where the animals could not escape. Lama Treton Tshewang Tshultrim founded the monastery to end the killing and protect the place (mtha' srung, 'protected edge'). Later a Lama of the Thabzhi lineage and his descendants became the caretakers of the monastery until they had no more male descendant. By marriage with a man from the Treton lineage in Pugmo, the monastery changed into their line. At present several monks live in the monastery that is headed by abbot Geshe Samdrup Nyima. (cf. book by Marietta Kind 2002 – Mendrub, edited by WWF Nepal, 2nd edition 2012 by Vajra books).

The original community chapel of the monastery became to small for rituals and festivities. In 1996 the abbot began to build a new community chapel with the support of WWF Nepal. In 1996 the building consisting of only the ground floor was inaugurated with a grand ritual. However, the interior and the second floor were not finished yet. In the year 2000 a beautful altar and the bookshelves were built with our (Tapriza NGO) support. The wooden shelves were then painted by the students of our Thanka Painting course. In the next step thankas and statures were manufactured over several years by various Thanka painters and statue builders.
Many villagers financed one painting or statue each, we also financed a few paintings. In 2008 the altar and chapel were completed. In a next step the second floor, a kitchen are planned in order to be able to provide enough food during the big ritual festivals independent of weather conditions.

Tapriza NGO does not have the intention to replace the traditional education of the monk novices. In the contrary Tapriza NGO plans to keep both types of education alive and thus supports several monasteris in their endeavour to keep the cultural heritage alive and educate young monks and nuns.  (M.Kind)

Shrine Renovations

Chorten (tib. mchod rten, skr. stupa) are shrines which refer to the spiritual world and the ancestors. Ringmo is surrounded by a great number of shrines in all directions. On the one hand they separate the wild nature from the human settlements and on the other hand they serve as religious symbols.

Some of the shrines enable the person who builds or sponsors them the ability to gain merit, while others, the so-called tungten (gdung rten), serve as containers for the relics of deceased religious masters. A third kind of shrines is considered the seat of local deities. They are called to take seat in the shrines during special rituals where they are asked to renew the protection of the local people and their animals.

The village community is renovating the shrines step by step and tries to protect the wallpaintings inside from decay and restore them. We have been asked for support in this task. First the two biggest shrines on the opposite side of the river towards Murwa/Rike were completely restored with our support. After that the difficult renovation of the central shrine Kalsang Ombar was planned, located just below the village on the trail towards the river. It used to contain a passage way and one was able to walk through it and admire the wall- and ceiling paintings. It was seen as the traditional entry to the spiritually protected village.

Together with similar chorten in Pugmo, Do-Tarap and Parlä it belongs to a set of four chorten in Dolpo that form a mandala. They were all built by the great master Treton Namkha Gyaltshen from Pugmo about 250 years ago in order to protect the villages. Despite the regular maintenance the wooden construction had rottened and only a very careful renovation could save them from decay, especially the very valuable wall paintings. The Tibetologist David Snellgrove, who travelled through Dolpo in 1956, describes the wallpaintings of this chorten as some of the finest works, he had seen on his whole travels, but also remarks that probably nobody today still maintains such master skills.  (Snellgrove, David. Himalayan Pilgrimage. 1981, S. 63-65).(M.Kind)

Already in the years 2007 the Kalsang Ombar (tib. bsKal bzang ‘od bar) chorten was in a very bad condition. First inspections made it clear that the shrine was about to collapse. The building committee was not prepared for such a difficult situation and decided to renovate two different chorten that year instead. The renovation of the main shrine was postponed to 2008 and 2009 in order to properly prepare for it. After local and external experts (our board members Urs Furger and René Brunner) thoroughly inspected the basic structure, a solution for the support of the shrine was worked out in order to prevent it from collapsing. They succeeded in 2009 and were able to renovate the shrine. Unfortunately for safety reasons the passage way had to be closed on one side so that the additional wall could support the construction but also protect the wall paintings from vandalism. However, if asked, the villagers will show the new wall-paintings to the interested.
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