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Mustang – Eleventh-hour rescue? (Nepal)

The Research Project
In Nepal, a unique historical site, which effortlessly fulfils all of the necessary criteria to become a World Heritage site, is threatening to fall into decay. We are referring here to the Mentsun Lhakhang in the Mustang district, as yet the oldest, cave temple in the country. Up to now, no one has felt any responsibility for the historical site. On the contrary, for centuries the temple has been left untended and exposed, defenceless, to the elements. Sections of the temple’s roof are now so damaged that rain and snow find their way into the edifice. As a result, some of the wall paintings, which are to be found inside the temple, stylistically unparalleled examples in Nepal, have been greatly affected if not already destroyed.

The cultural site had a stroke of luck, when Dzongsar Ngari Thingo Rinpoche and the art historian and conserver Susanne von der Heide stumbled across the decaying site by pure chance during one of their student travelling trips across the country. Convinced of the building’s significance, they decided without hesitation to set about coordinating a rescue effort for the temple. The locals, who had looked after the temple up that point, had even asked them to do so. The two experts assembled a team of villagers and Nepalese students from the newly-introduced degree program “Conservation” and trained them in conservation and restoration techniques with the help of two experts – French and Nepalese expert. The aim: The restoration of the roof and subsequently of the early-Buddhist wall paintings underneath it. Viewed in a wider context, the expedition is also characterized by a ‘help others to help themselves’ philosophy, so that in the future even irrecoverable cultural assets can be protected too.

With the assistance of a local film crew, Susanne von der Heide filmed the restoration project in the oldest Buddhist temple in the Himalayas.

Project leadership

Dzongsar Ngari Thingo Rinpoche (†2008)
Dr Susanne von der Heide

Location

District Mustang (Nepal)

Academic project managers
Dzongsar Ngari Thingo Rinpoche (†2008)
Dr. Susanne von der Heide

Film project managers
Dzongsar Ngari Thingo Rinpoche (†2008)
Dr. Susanne von der Heide

Editorial teams
Marina Anselm

Camera technicians
Dr. Susanne von der Heide
Narayan
Dipankar

Editing technicians
Konstantin Sautier

Project assitants / Actors
Sabine
Surya Kumari
Bishnu Devi
Hira Laxmi
Ram Prasad
Shyam Sundar
Krishna Gopal

Film extras
Tsuk Prasad
Prakash
Laxmi

Overall planning teams
Gisela Graichen und Peter Prestel

All episodes
Journey to a legendary kingdom
Episode 1
04/12/2010
Mentsun Lhakhang cave temple
Episode 2
05/03/2010
Toiling under divine protection
Episode 3
05/31/2010
In Buddha’s footsteps
Episode 4
07/19/2010
Training at the end of the world
Episode 5
08/16/2010
Legendary trails
Episode 6
09/13/2010
Lo Manthang
Episode 7
11/02/2010
Tracing the development of early Buddhist art
Episode 8
01/03/2011
The true age
Episode 9
03/14/2011
Farewell
Episode 10
04/27/2011

Comment

by dres.schneider-sickert | 13.11.2010 | 20:19
Eine persönliche Nachricht für S.von der Heide

Liebe Susanne von der Heide, mit Trauer haben wir gelesen, daß Dzongsar Ngari Thingo Rinpoche ein neues Leben begonnen und Sie in Ihrem gemeinsamen Projekt allein gelassen hat. Da uns Mustang immer noch sehr interessiert und Ihr Ergehen ebenfalls, lassen Sie bitte mal von sich hören.
Ihnen viele gute Wünsche
Frank+Gitta Schneider-Sickert
Tel 00495307 6117

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