participant expressed the same sentiment, but the Unesco regional
adviser for culture in Asia-Pacific was quick to stress the
inevitable - that cash input through Unesco was not "going
to go on forever" and to preserve such hope was "unrealistic".
Tangible and intangible accomplishments
appear to have been already achieved over the years, however.
In Mongolia, the revival of Buddhist
decorative arts and crafts like woodcarving and ceramics is
remarkable given that from the 1920s to 1990s most temples
were abandoned, if not destroyed, for political reasons, and
only a few old monks were left.
"This training is very new for
Mongolia,"said the venerable Lama Khishigt Davaa, head
of the Dambadarjaalin Founda-tion.
At Rajbo Temple in Cambo-dia's Siem
Reap province, the project has helped monks revive mural painting,
gold-leaf stencilling and woodcarving.
In Ladakh, northern India, the decline
in the numbers of Buddhist monks and introduction of cost-effective
new technology meant woodcarving was on the verge of disappearing
altogether until the project was introduced.
And in northern Thailand's Nan province,
the project breathed new life into vernacular Buddhist arts
such as gold-leaf gilding and lacquer ware. But those involved
in the Thai project are cautious about drawing conclusions.
"We cannot say it's successful
yet. It's a bit too early,"said MR Rujaya Abhakorn,
project mentor for Thailand. "I think the measure of
success is the [recognition of the] value of heritage by the
Rujaya raised the issues of sustainability
and authenticity. While it's good to revive Buddhist woodblock
printing in many areas, such printing is archaic in a modern
world where people "talk about e-books".
Using the skills to make tourist
souvenirs might bring in income, but it might also adulterate
the authenticity of the culture, he said.Lama Kunga Hochotsang
from Sikkim, India agreed.
"We must create awareness about
Thunga paintings sold to tourists
are not usable in temples, he added.
Others like Assoc Prof Phra Sudhivorayan,
deputy rector of foreign affairs at Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya
University in Ayutthaya, said the way forward is to embrace
tourism along with marketing and form a triangular strategy
together with the preservation of Buddhist arts. Another participant
said linking up with modern industries like tourism to produce
"objects of economic marketability" could be an
But while the debate continues and
different groups may have different answers, the workshop
agreed that networking among monks of various nations and
traditions as well as the exchange of know-how should continue.
"We have a lot to learn from
Theravada Buddhism, such as adopting simpler robes, but Theravada
Buddhist monks can also learn about abstaining from meat,"
said Rimpoche Choekyi Gyaltsen Minyag of Guwa Monastery in
"It's a good opportunity for
us to learn from each other."