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Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet, China

Artist/Designer: Peter Hansel

Project Location: China

Figure 1: The outlook of Potala Palace ( Source | Photographer: Matthew Summerton )
Figure 2: View of the Potala from behind, seen from Ching Drol Chi Ling ( Source | Photographer: Thomas Kraus )
Figure 3: Potala Palace with Lhasa in the foreground ( Source | Photographer: Lhasa Government )
Figure 4: Golden roofs in the Potala Palace ( Source | Photographer: Aneta Ribarska )
Figure 5: stairs in the Potala Palace ( Source | Photographer: Aneta Ribarska )
Figure 6: The plan of Potala Palace ( Source )
Figure 7: Cross-section of Potala Palace ( Source )
Figure 8: Illustration of Potala Palace ( Source )
Figure 9: The White Palace, where Dalai Lama lived in ( Source )
Figure 10: The former quarters of the Dalai Lama ( Source | Photographer: Luca Galuzzi )
Figure 11: The flexible covers in courtyard ( Source | Photographer: Ko Hon Chiu Vincent )
Figure 12: The park, pond, and chapel behind the Potala ( Source | Photographer: Quadell )
Figure 13: Detail of decoration in Potala ( Source | Photographer: Leon petrosyan )
Figure 14: The paintings on the beams ( Source | Photographer: Aneta Ribarska )
Figure 15: The decoration on roof ( Source | Photographer: Aneta Ribarska )
Figure 16: The wrap wheels in the Palace ( Source | Photographer: Water Poon )

Style/Period(s):
Traditional

Primary Material(s):
Brick, Clay, Stone, Copper, Wood

Function(s):
Government, Religious Building

Related Website(s):

Significant Date(s):
1646

Additional Information:
The palace is named after Mount Potalala, the mythical abode of the bodhisattva AvalokiteĊ›vara. The 5th Dalai Lama started its construction in 1645 after one of his spiritual advisers, Konchog Chophel (died 1646), pointed out that the site was ideal as a seat of government, situated as it is between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old city of Lhasa. It may overlie the remains of an earlier fortress called the White or Red Palace on the site, built by Songtsen Gampo in 637.

The building measures 400 metres (1,300 ft) east-west and 350 metres (1,150 ft) north-south, with sloping stone walls averaging 3 metres (9.8 ft) thick, and 5 metres (16 ft) thick at the base, and with copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes. Thirteen storeys of buildings, containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues, soar 117 metres (384 ft) on top of Marpo Ri, the "Red Hill", rising more than 300 metres (980 ft) in total above the valley floor.

Tradition has it that the three main hills of Lhasa represent the "Three Protectors of Tibet". Chokpori, just to the south of the Potala, is the soul-mountain (Wylie: bla ri) of Vajrapani, Pongwari that of Manjusri, and Marpori, the hill on which the Potala stands, represents AvalokiteĊ›vara.

It was the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959, has been a museum since then, and a World Heritage Site since 1994.

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