Norbulingka in Tibetan language means “precious garden”. It is the summer palace for all Dalai Lamas. It was first built in the 18th century by the 7th Dalai Lama, Kelzang Gyatso, and then expanded into the present size of 360,000 square meters in the 20th century.
The building complex has over 400 rooms of various sizes. The Norbulingka is the biggest and most magnificent and representative large-scale palace garden in Tibet. It is also a confluence of Tibetan quintessential arts of architecture, painting, statue and sculpture. As the political, religious and cultural centre of Tibet in the Qing Daynasty, the Norbulingka is a symbol of multi-ethnic cultural confluence.
Norbulingka was announced to be national key cultural relic protection unit in 1988 by the State Council, and was enlisted as world cultural heritage by the UNESCO in 2011.
Mingled garden culture witnesses profound and extensive Han-Tibetan relation
The main part of the Norbulinka architecture complex includes Kelzang Potrang (palace), Chensel Potrang, and Tagten Migyur Potrang. Their color, style, and decoration feature in Tibetan traditional architecture characteristic; whereas, their layout and overall structure treatment absorb and take after Han style architecture. For example, the doors, windows and pillars style in Tibetan traditional architecture, but the emblazonry displays inland traditional Han style.
It is recorded that the 13th Dalai Lama sent craftsmen to Beijing especially for cultivating traditional decoration ornamentation skills and arrangement of Han architecture.
The emblazonry of “the Eight immortals crossing the sea” and the totem of “happiness, wealth, longevity, and auspiciousness” is almost identical with that in the inland. Moreover, there are Chinese characters of “fu” (happiness), “lu” (wealth) and “shou” (longevity) written amid the painting decoration.
The stone lion corridor and the pair of stone lions in front of the Norbulingka’s gate look almost exactly the same shape and style with those in the inland.
Tibet became under the central government’s administration as early as in the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century. The live record in the Norbulingka architecture of the confluence of Han-Tibetan culture is strong evidence that Tibet’s land, people and culture were destined to be indispensible part of China.
Frescoes records Han-Tibetan national unity and cultural exchange history
Another feature of Norbulingka is the frescoes in its main hall. The frescoes can be categorized into religious and non-religious themes.
The religious paintings are about Buddhist doctrines and stories of eminent monks. The non-religious paintings are about historical figures and stories. All of them are reflections of the diverse and unique traditional culture of Tibetan people.
Inside the Tagten Migyur Potrang is a set of fine frescoes displaying important historical political events in Tibet, such as the story of Princess Wencheng and Jincheng coming to Tibet and Emperor Shunzhi of the Qing Dynasty issuing the empowerment document and golden seal to the 5th Dalai Lama.
The paintings also is a combination of traditional Tibetan painting and the Han style painting with exact delineation and enriched colors and line drawing.
source: CCTV News, 07 Jan, 2013