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Sakya Monastery is located at the foot of the Mount Benbo in Sakya County, Shigatse Prefecture, Tibetan Autonomous Region, and is the principal monastery of the Sakyapa Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
"Sakya" is a Tibetan phonetic translation, Sa” in the Tibetan language means "soil", "kya" in Tibetan language means "grey", so "Sakya" means "gray soil". One characteristic feature of the Sakya sect is the coloring of the buildings ash grey with white and red vertical stripes, these colors represent Rig Sum Gompo (three Bodhisattvas): Wisdom Buddha (Manjushri), Compassion Buddha (Avalokiteshvara) and Vajrapani, so the Sakyapa Sect is also commonly known as the "Sakya (Stripe hat)". In the monastery, there are precious cultural relics such as the Pattra-Leaf Scripture, the Tripitaka (Bu De Jia Ma Long), the murals of the mandala in the Yuan Dynasty, old porcelain, etc..
There are more than 40 buildings in the whole Sakya Monastery, and the scale is magnificent. The Sakya North Monastery was built along the northern bank of the Chun Qu River. 3 ladrangs of 4 major ladrangs are located in the Sakya North Monastery: Xituo Ladrang is 56.6 meters long, 40 meters wide, which is a rectangular courtyard, four floors, a total of 16.3 meters high. Originally this is the mansion that Drogön Chögyal Phagpa held the post of Sakya prince of Dharma who managed one hundred and thirty thousand households of Tibet; later it has been the seat of government of Sakya Dynasty, eventually became one of the four ladrangs; Renqingang Ladrang and Duque Ladrang is the building of Phagpa period with a large scale.
Sakya South Monastery is located in the flat land of Mayongzha in the south bank of Chun Qu River. It is a square in the plan with 214 meters length from the east to the west, 210 meters width from the north to the south and covering an area of 44,940 square meters. The building combines the architectural styles of Chinese, Indian and Tibetan, and the layout is like a mandala.
The monastery has more than 3,000 exquisite murals covering a wide range of subjects including religion, history, culture, social life etc., mainly based on Buddhist scriptures, teachings, myths and legends, historical stories, Kunshi history, Sakya history, landscapes, flowers and animals, the decorative patterns, etc.. The scene is grand and the content is rich.
The Sakya Monastery hosts a large number of prayer festivals every year, the most important prayer festivals are: the rain prayer festival in every May (in Tibetan calendar); the summer prayer festival in every July (in Tibetan calendar) with Mask Dance (Cham) performances, and the winter prayer festival taking place from November 23 to 29 of the Tibetan calendar with Mask Dance (Cham) performances. During the Mask Dance (Cham) performances, the dancers wear the masks of the Dharma Protectors of Sakya Moanstery and various beasts. Simple storylines reflect the basic contents of killing the devil in these Tibetan Buddhist tantric mask dances. During summer and winter prayer festivals, monks and believers will go to worship at Sakya Monastery.