Yangla and Tseyang are two restorers of Tibetan ancient texts who approach their work with a great deal of care and attention to detail. For them, restoring a piece of ancient scripture is much like caring for their own babies; it requires immense patience, attentiveness, affection, and endurance.
One of the tasks they perform is patching gaps on pages of ancient scripture. In doing so, they frequently use blotting paper to absorb any liquid that may ooze from the patch. The restorers explain that they must change the blotting paper frequently until it completely dries. They liken the frequency of changing blotting paper to changing diapers, a humorous anecdote that illustrates just how meticulous their work can be.
Yangla and Tseyang have been dedicated to restoring ancient Tibetan documents for over a decade. They work at the Tibetan Ancient Documents Restoration Center, which is affiliated with the Tibet Ancient Documents Preservation Center of the regional library of the Tibet autonomous region.
Established in 2015, the center has been restoring ancient documents from a number of monasteries in the region. Recently, it completed the restoration of Kagyur scriptures of the Bon religion from the Pula Monastery in Drachen county.
The Kagyur scriptures from the Pula Monastery are considered a rare version of ancient texts and have been listed in the catalogue of National Rare Ancient Books. This is the first time that Tibet has completed the restoration of such a document, marking a significant achievement for the region.
The restoration process is time-consuming and requires a high level of expertise. Restorers must first assess the condition of the document and devise a plan for restoration. They may use a variety of techniques, including patching, cleaning, and rebinding, to repair the document.
One of the challenges of restoring ancient texts is ensuring that the restoration process does not damage the original document. Restorers must work carefully to preserve the document’s integrity while still making necessary repairs.
In addition to restoring ancient documents, the center also works to digitize them. This allows for easier access to the documents and helps to preserve them for future generations.
The restoration of ancient texts is an important task in preserving cultural heritage. These documents provide valuable insight into the history, language, and traditions of a region. Without restoration, these documents may deteriorate to the point of being unreadable or lost forever.
The Tibetan Ancient Documents Restoration Center is just one of many organizations around the world dedicated to preserving cultural heritage through the restoration of ancient texts. Their work is crucial in ensuring that these valuable documents are not lost to time.
Yangla and Tseyang’s dedication to their work is admirable. Through their careful restoration, they are helping to ensure that the history and traditions of Tibet are preserved for future generations. Their patience, attentiveness, affection, and endurance are a testament to the importance of their work.
The restoration of ancient texts is a complex and time-consuming task that requires a high level of expertise and care. Organizations like the Tibetan Ancient Documents Restoration Center play a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage through the restoration of ancient texts. Restorers like Yangla and Tseyang are dedicated to their work and approach it with the same level of care and affection as caring for their own babies. Their work is a testament to the importance of preserving the history and traditions of a region.
Yangla and Tseyang spent over 18 months restoring two volumes and 453 pages of ancient scripture from a monastery. The restoration process was extensive, with each page taking anywhere between half a day and three days to restore.
The scriptures were damaged by damp, with many parts of the pages lost. The restorers had to take measures to prevent further deterioration and ensure that the pages were restored to their original condition.
One of the challenges they faced was making the restored pages look as close to the original as possible. Choosing the right paper and the right color were crucial in achieving this goal.
To find the right material, they ordered paper from different Tibetan producers. They found that paper from the region’s Nyemo county worked better than other options.
To ensure a match, they instructed the producers to make the paper with a specific color, which proved to be very helpful.
The restoration process requires a great deal of skill and expertise. Restorers must be knowledgeable about the materials used in the original document and have an understanding of traditional techniques for restoration.
In addition to the technical aspects of restoration, restorers must also have a deep appreciation for the historical and cultural significance of the documents they are restoring.
Through their work, Yangla and Tseyang are helping to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Tibet. Their dedication to their craft is evident in the time and care they put into each restoration project.
Restoring ancient texts is a vital task in preserving cultural heritage. Without restoration, these valuable documents may deteriorate to the point of being unreadable or lost forever.
Organizations like the Tibetan Ancient Documents Restoration Center, where Yangla and Tseyang work, are instrumental in ensuring that these important documents are preserved for future generations.
The restoration of ancient Tibetan texts is a painstaking process that requires great skill, patience, and dedication. For Yangla and Tseyang, two restorers of these texts, working on a piece of ancient scripture is like nursing their own babies. The work requires extraordinary patience, attentiveness, affection, and endurance. These restorers work in the Tibetan Ancient Documents Restoration Center, which is affiliated with the Tibet Ancient Documents Preservation Center of the regional library of the Tibet autonomous region. The center has been restoring ancient documents from a number of monasteries in the region since its establishment in 2015. The restoration process is challenging and involves many steps, from separating pages to repairing damaged pages and preserving them for future generations.
One of the most challenging parts of the restoration process is separating the pages. As many scriptures are often unearthed from the debris of ancient monasteries, the pages are often stuck together. The scriptures resemble bricks, and the pages need to be separated using tools such as tweezers, screwdrivers, and pins. In 2017, Yangla and Tseyang were invited to help the Trachilma chapel in Tibet’s eastern Chamdo city to separate ancient documents. Five people from their center spent five days working on the separation of 480 woven bags of ancient documents. The relics had remained untouched for 37 years since they were first unearthed in 1980.
“The majority of these unearthed ancient scriptures were written with gold ink. More than 30 people, including the monks, were involved in the work of separating the scriptures,” says Tseyang. “We were only able to separate about 50 bags worth of readable pages in the end. It was really hard to separate them, as the gold ink had stuck together,” says Tseyang. Despite the difficulties, the team never complained and worked tirelessly to restore the ancient texts.
As these ancient scriptures had been sitting for 37 years, there was a large amount of mold on them, and the N95 masks did not work. Part of our faces and mouths became red and swollen due to the mildew on the scriptures,” says Yangla. Despite the risk to their health, Yangla and Tseyang never hesitated to help. The head of the county was impressed by their work spirit, and he also came to help.
The restoration process involves choosing the right paper and color for each page. To find the right material, they ordered paper from different Tibetan producers. The paper from the region’s Nyemo county works better, they say. “In order to ensure a match, we tell the producers to make the paper with a certain color, and it is very helpful,” says Tseyang. While repairing a damaged page, their goal is to make it look close to the original, and choosing the right paper and the right color are challenging.
The amount of time required to restore a page can be anywhere between half a day and three days. The scriptures in the monastery were damaged by damp, parts of most pages were lost, and they had to prevent them from further deterioration. The restoration, which took Yangla and Tseyang more than 18 months, involved two volumes and 453 pages.
As a transparent plate is always required while preserving a page of ancient text, their eyesight has suffered, but they say it’s worth it. “The more we deal with this work, the more we love it and find it fulfilling,” says Tseyang.
Over the past few years, their center has restored more than 5,000 pages of rare ancient Tibetan scriptures. The restoration of these works is entrusted by just a few monasteries in the region, including Pula, Mangra in Maldrogungkar county, and the Chayul Padkar Monastery.