1.         Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa (China) (C 707ter)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (i)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/707/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/707/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/707/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-third session of the World Heritage Bureau  (paragraph number IV.53)
Twenty-third extraordinary session of the World Heritage Bureau - (paragraph number III.C)
Twenty-fourth session of the World Heritage Bureau - (paragraph number IV.58)
Twenty-fourth extraordinary session of the World Heritage Bureau - (paragraph number I.45)

Main Issues:        

Uncontrolled urban development and expansion of tourism-related facilities in and immediately surrounding the World Heritage areas.

New information

  1. Following the request of the Bureau in November 2000, the President of ICOMOS carried out a Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastery between 26 February and 6 March 2001.
  2. The ICOMOS Mission reported that:
3. The Secretariat was informed recently by various sources that some religious treasures at the Potala Palace are being exported, such as the five-metre bronze and gold statue of Maitriya - the future Buddha, from the tomb of the 7th Dalai Lama and statues and artifacts from another shrine in the Potala Palace to Shanghai. On 16 May 2001, the Secretariat requested the Chinese authorities to provide further information concerning the current policy regarding movable cultural heritage of the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in Lhasa.

Action Required

The Bureau expresses its appreciation to the Chinese authorities for facilitating the ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. The Bureau recalls having encouraged the Chinese authorities to submit a training request for the organization of a training Workshop on the conservation of mural paintings with support from UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies. The Bureau also requests the Chinese authorities to provide further information concerning the current policy regarding movable cultural heritage of the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. Furthermore, the Bureau expresses its readiness to consider international assistance from the World Heritage Fund to support the national and local efforts in safeguarding the World Heritage areas of Lhasa and requests the World Heritage Centre to work in close collaboration with the State Party to prepare a plan of action to address the conservation issues raised in the Reactive Monitoring Mission Report of ICOMOS.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

As requested by the Bureau at its twenty-fifth session, the Secretariat continued to work in close collaboration with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China and the Government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region to prepare the organization of a Mural Painting Conservation Training Workshop at the Potala Palace World Heritage site.

 

Within the context of the Regional Periodic Reporting Exercise, the Centre is closely co-operating with the State Party to elaborate a plan of action to enhance the conservation and management of the property.

The Centre was informed by independent reports and the international press that there were plans to construct a 35-meter high monument within the World Heritage protected areas of the property. During a UNESCO mission to China in August 2001, the Deputy Director of the Centre consulted representatives from the Administration of Cultural Heritage of the Tibetan Autonomous Region and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China, who informed her that this plan had been abandoned.

The Centre was informed that heavy rain in August 2001 caused the collapse of one of the main walls of the Potala Palace as well as other portions of the World Heritage protected areas. In co-operation with the relevant Chinese authorities, a WHC - China fact-finding mission is being organized to the property in early November 2001. The report on the state of conservation of the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in Lhasa will be presented to the Bureau at its twenty-fifth extraordinary session.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 25 BUR V.227-232

V.227     The findings of the ICOMOS Mission undertaken to the Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastery (26 February - 6 March 2001) were examined by the Bureau, following its request for the mission at its twenty-fourth extraordinary session. The ICOMOS Mission had been undertaken in conjunction with the evaluation mission for the nomination of the extension of the site to include the Norbulingka Palace.

V.228     The Bureau’s attention was drawn to the uncontrolled urban development and expansion of tourism related facilities which are reportedly continuing both within the World Heritage areas and in the immediate surroundings. The Bureau recalled that the protected area of Shöl is composed of a large number of historic buildings that serve to illustrate the once integrated functions of the Potala Palace and that many incompatible additions and alterations had taken place in different epochs of the recent past. The Bureau was informed that the Shöl area, occupied previously by private institutions and persons, is now administered by the Administration of Cultural Heritage of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) which has started providing alternative accommodation to the inhabitants prior to the rehabilitation of the buildings.

V.229     Referring to the recent transportation of some 40 artifacts from the Potala Palace including a 3-metre bronze and gold statue of Maitriya, the Observer of China confirmed that these treasures were temporarily removed to be displayed at the exhibition "Cultural Treasures of Tibet" in Shanghai until 25 October 2001. Upon closure of this exhibition, these artifacts would be returned to the Potala Palace, following national policies pertaining to movable cultural heritage.

V.230     In response to the concern expressed by international experts regarding the poor condition of the mural paintings of the Potala Palace, as well as insufficient storage facilities for the protection of the thousands of 7th century Mahayana Buddhist scriptures and 11th century Thanka silk paintings, the Bureau was informed by the Observer of China that the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China would fully support the organization of a Mural Painting Conservation Training Workshop, subject to the formal request from the Government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

V.231     The Bureau, expressed appreciation for the efforts made by the national and local authorities in elaborating the Potala Palace and Jokhang Monastery Protection Plans which focus on the conservation, maintenance and monitoring of the site, as well as on annual programmes to enhance religious activities, and on optimum utilization of available staff and funding from various sources including income received from visitor fees.

V.232     The Bureau also thanked the Chinese authorities for facilitating the ICOMOS Monitoring Mission to the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. The Bureau, in noting its concern over the state of conservation of the various elements of this World Heritage site, reiterated its readiness to favourably consider an international assistance request from China for the organization of a Mural Paintings Conservation Training Workshop with support from UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies as well as other activities to support the national and local efforts in safeguarding the World Heritage areas of Lhasa. The Bureau requested the World Heritage Centre to work in close collaboration with the State Party to prepare a plan of action within the context of the Periodic Reporting exercise to address the conservation and management issues examined by the Bureau, and to report to the Bureau in due course.

Decision Adopted: 25 COM X.B

Property: Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa [Extension to include the Norbulingka area]

 Id. N°: 707 Ter

State Party: China

Criteria: C (i) (iv) (vi)

The Committee decided to approve the extension of the inscribed property, Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple Monastery, Lhasa, to include the Norbulingka area, maintaining the existing criteria (i), (iv), and (vi).

The Committee noted that, because of development pressures in the city of Lhasa, particular attention be given to the mitigation of the changes in the areas surrounding the World Heritage properties.