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World Heritage Convention

Decision 25 BUR V.227-232
The Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple Monastery, Lhasa (China)

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 Code
25 BUR V.227-232
States Parties 1
Context of Decision