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Sera Monastery
One of the “Three Great Monasteries in Lhasa”

The Sera Monastery is one of the "three great monasteries in Lhasa" and is located at the foot of Sera Wuze Mountain in the north of Lhasa. According to tradition, it was named after a wild rose in the mountain which had the same name. But there is also another interpretation about the name, according to which Sera means "hail". The full name of the monastery is Sera Mahayana. Sera Monastery was founded by Tsongkapa's student, Sagya Yeshes. In 1419, namely in the 12th year of government under Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, Tsongkapa sent him to a workshop to talk with the emperor Zhudi in Nanjing. In April of the following year, the emperor awarded him the honorary title "Great Dharma, Great State Teacher". Sagya Yeshes built the Sera Monastery under Emperor Yongle's (1419) after his return to Tibet.

Shortly after the monastery was founded, there were two Dratsangs (Buddhist colleges) that formed the center of the monastery. The monastery was later expanded and assumed. Built according to the geographical conditions, the monastery consists mainly of the sutra hall, three Dratsangs and 30 houses for monks and living Buddhas now. The houses stand side by side and show a clear structural order. With four floors, the Great Sutra Hall is the largest hall and is the administrative center of the monastery. Located in the northwest of the building complex and with an area of almost 2000 m², the main hall consists of a forecourt, a sutra hall and five residential buildings.

The statue of Sagya Yeshes stands in the main hall and there are three smaller Buddha halls behind the main hall. There is a large bookshelves on the south wall of the Qamba Hall that was given by Emperor Zhudi and printed in the eighth year of his reign. In the arhat hall on the west side, there are 16 clay arhat figures that are patterned with the 16 wooden arhat figures that were brought back by Sagya Yeshes from inland. People can find out the style of Ming Dynasty easily from these sculpture. The large arhat hall is characterized in inland style that is reflected in the beam and roof construction. The roofs are decorated with figures of gods and animals.

The Sera Monastery collects a large amount of cultural objects. The Ganggyur is one of them. It has imperial remarks and is kept in a precious wooden boxes with gold threads. The emperor had sent a special representative to Tibet to get this sacred Buddhist scripture for later printing it under his supervision. The text is written in Tibetan and the headlines are additionally given in Chinese. This edition has excellent print quality and high quality packaging, which is very important for both philological research and printing in China. In addition to this print edition, the Tangka with the portrait of Sagya Yeshes by the emperor has a high artistic and historical value. This tangka, interwoven with colorful threads, is over 500 years history and still shows clear lines. Next to the picture is the full title of Sagya Yeshes.

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