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Oldest Buddhist stele found in Tibet

Beijing: Chinese archaeologists believe that the ninth century Purang stele that was discovered in northern Tibet is the oldest in the Himalayan region.

Shargan Wangdue, of Tibet Cultural Relics Protection Institute, said the stele was discovered in Ngari prefecture in northern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The stele, an upright stone slab or column decorated with figures or inscriptions, is 1.85 metres tall, inscribed with the image of a standing Buddha, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.

On its left side are 24 lines of old Tibetan language. On its right side are 19 lines of Buddhist prayers. Shargan Wangdue said most scholars agree that the stele was set up in 826 or 838, during the period of Tubo kingdom.

"This stele shows Buddhism was already being practised during the Tubo period in western part of Ngari," Shargan Wangdue said.

Also, archaeologists in southwest China's Sichuan province have restored a "dragon bed" believed to be used by an ancient king 2,500 years ago. The bed, 2.55 metres long, 1.3 metres wide and 1.8 metres tall, is the oldest and the best-preserved lacquered bed ever unearthed in China, said Yang Tao, an assistant researcher with Chengdu Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute.

"Parts of the bed were scattered in a number of boat- shaped coffins at the time of the discovery, and it took archaeologists and their staff 17 years to restore the bed to its original form to the best of their ability, using various techniques," said Xiao Lin, who heads the restoration department of the institute. PTI

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