Introduction of the museum
Tso-Ngon(Qinghai) Tibetan Culture Museum is the museum in Tibetan areas in China with its mission to search, collect, study and display Tibetan cultural collectibles with focus on Tibetan medicine. A historical context on the museum might be beneficial to understand this unique museum. In late 1990's an increasing number of non-Tibetan cultural patients got benefit from taking Tibetan medicine, and their spontaneous curiosity and the consequential inquisition into Tibetan medicine are the partial driving force to spur Tibetan doctors to find an effective way to let the patients understand the underlined cultural background.This again inspired local people, particularly Dr. Otsang Tsokchen, the head of Tso-Ngon Arura Tibetan Medical Group , to expand the original small scaled display into the grandiose museum. With the increasing collections, the museum has been constantly expanding its exhibitions since its debut in 2007, at the time being here in the museum there are ten exhibitions:
1)Tibetan Medical History, in this exhibition, Tibetan medicine development is depicted through photos,paintings, statues, books, documents and other materials. Visitors will gain a clear outline of Tibetan medical development and its main characteristics through this exhibition.
2)Manthang and Instruments, 80 pieces of the classical Tibetan medical thanks are displayed in this exhibition, these are the replicas of the original Tibetan Medical thanks stored partially in Potala Palace, Lhasa Mentsee Khans and TAR Museum in Xizang Tibetan Autonomous Region. The origins of these medical thank were made in 1696 under the leadership of Desisangje Gyaltso(1653-1703), the chief minister of fifth Dalai lama,Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama (1617–1682). As these Thangka are the illustration of the authoritative classical books of Tibetan medical books, translated in most English literature as Four Tantrics, it is considered as a standardized medical illustration and accepted universally amongst Tibetan medical circle. It has totally 80 pieces of Thangks, and become the most effective leaning and referential tools in Tibetan medical study.
3)Tibetan Meteria Medica, there are the most common Tibetan medical materials, that includes the plants, minerals and metals. In this exhibition visitors can see these materials in raw and processed to experience to favor of Tibetan materia medica. Using metals in Tibetan medicine has been a controversy amongst non-Tibetan cultural people, even frightening particularly amongst western cultural people,who think metals are fatal poisonous, but there is no evidence that proves or disproves the controversy, and no mater what is the de facto situation, the truth is that Tibetan people have been taking these medicines more than one thousand years and getting convincing benefits from it. It is also a fact that Tibetan doctor are crystal clear about the toxicity of the metals, and it is considered the most difficult and important technique to master the skills required to detoxicate these metals before they are used in prescriptions. And master of the detoxication techniques is one of the primary criteria to examine a good doctor from a bad one.
4) Tibetan Astronomy, Tibetan doctors are actually heavily reply on the almanac to tell the time to go to collect ingredients in proper time and treat patients in right time so that what they are doing have the maximum benefits. For this reason, a Tibetan doctor is required to learn Tibetan astronomy to make correct almanac at advanced level or to read correctly the almanac. In this exhibition, photos, statues and tools to calculate calendrical system are displayed in addition to the explanation of whole calendrical system.The hotspots of this exhibition are the sand mandala and pagoda of Kalachakra, the former was made on the very site where it stands and the latter was made by the traditional family Tibetan artisans in Nepal.The symmetrical art work of mandala is breathtaking, and it has multiple allegorist significance in Tibetan buddhism, one of it is that it symbolize the similarity and congruence of meditional mechanism and cosmological movement.
5) The Great Thangka, this is the hotspot of the museum, it is 618 meters long and 1.1 meters height. There could be some coming works that might overtake this Thangka in term of length, but never in its cultural significance. This thangka was designed for 23 years and painted by 400 devoted Buddhist monks for 4 years, they are from all major thought schools. they painted this Thangka not only as an art works, but most importantly as a religious practice, that can only be committed once in many lives. This Thangka covers almost all the aspects of Tibertan culture: the formation of Tibetan Plateau, Tibetan ancestry, the kings and emperors of Tibetan kingdoms, all the high lamas in all the major Tibetan buddhism, life of Sakyamuni, his well established disciples,Tibetan medicine, Tibetan opera, literature, Mountain gods, folklore culture, architecture and others. It is considered as the Tibetan cultural encyclopedia.
6) Tibetan Handicrafts, The artifacts are grouped into metal, pottery, wooden, leather,textile. temporally they are from 7th century to later 18th century
7) Arms and Weaponry, in this exhibition, one can see armors, shields, saddles, rifles, and swords Tibetan used in their wars, the intrigue and complex of the armors and weaponry made by Tibetan contrasts the commonplace of Tibetan people, projected on modern Tibetan by those who don't know the history and culture。
8) Clothing Exhibition, Here are 30 pieces of clothing in various places in Tibetan areas. One can tell here how diverse Tibetan culture is.
9) Carpet Exhibition, Tibetan carpets are well known all over the world, they are made using the wools from Tibetan sheep, and patterns are beautifully designed, simple but charming.
10) Calligraphy Exhibition, There are many rubbing inscriptions, and many pieces of calligraphy by modern Tibetan calligraphers from Lhasa areas and Amdo areas.It is illogically believed that Tibetan writing system was created by a man suddenly after he had leaned other writing system and got it universally accepted. In this exhibition one can see the Tibetan writing system even before Thomi Sambhuta in 7th century standardized Tibetan writing system.
The current exhibition takes only 30% of the collections we have. Now days we are planning to have second building to display all the artifacts we have collected. it is planned to show to public in 2015.