Kumbum Gompa, Xīníng, Amdo | Qīnghǎi, Tibet

Gyaltsen is a guardian monk in the book printing house at Kumbum Monastery. Once a place of great learning and scholarship, ranked in importance as second only to Lhasa, now Kumbum is a sort of living museum in the suburbs of Xining. Despite the sad decline, it is still an important repository of Tibetan culture and art, including a large collection of hand-carved woodblocks traditionally used to print sacred scriptures. In this very same place, Alexandra David-Neel, the famous Belgian-French explorer, spent more than two years studying and translating Tibetan books.

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