Museum in memory of Tibetan scholar open to public

A museum in commemoration of Gedun Chophel, a Tibetan humanism pioneer and scholar, was opened to public in Lhasa, Nov. 11, 2013.

With a strong Tibetan flavor, the Gedun Chophel Museum is part of the Lhasa old town’s protection project, covering an area of 1,269 square meters and consisting of three stories.

The exhibits are divided into four parts, including the Gedun Chophel’s 24 years in Amdo, seven years in Lhasa, 12 years in South Asia and the last few years of his life back in Lhasa.

Gedun Chophel was born on April 20, 1903, in the Zho Phung She Village Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. He believed in the Nyingma Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

In Gedun Chophel’s age, China experienced a turbulent period of domestic strife and foreign aggressions. He pursued truth, upheld humanist spirit, turned his conception of history from Buddhist theology to humanism, and made important contribution to Tibetan modern academic and intellectual history.

While pursuing new thoughts and seeking for social changes, he severely disclosed and satirized various social problems of old Tibet and the British colonist’s plot to invade Tibet.

He participated in the survey and the catalog of the remains of the palm-leaf manuscripts in Tibet, the interpretation of ancient Tibetan literature in Dunhuang, the exploration of Tibetan philology, the English translation of Tibetan ancient books and other groundbreaking academic activities. He also wrote and translated a lot of books, and produced a great number of paintings. All these promoted the later development of Tibetology.

When he returned to Tibet from India in 1945, he prepared to write a book titled The White Annals. However, in April, 1946, the then “Gaxag” government, incited by the British government, put Gedun Chophel into jail, where he was kept in a gruesome prison and intermittently tortured.

Shortly after his release, he died of physical weakness in the “Kar ru shal” courtyard of Barkor Street of Lhasa on August 15, 1951, at the age of 48.

Qi Tsala, member of the standing committee of Tibet and municipal party secretary of Lhasa, visited the Gedun Chophel Museum together with representatives from related departments and local residents.

After the opening ceremony, the Lhasa municipal government held a meeting on management of the Gedun Chophel Museum.

The museum’s renovation has gained vigorous support from the local residents in Lhasa old town, who have got proper relocation; meanwhile, it has also won the support of relative departments such as the Center for Tibetan Studies, said Qi Tsala, who thanked the relative departments and workers for their hard work during the renovation and preparation for the opening ceremony.

source: CCTV, 13 NOV 2013

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