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Langmusi Introduction

Langmusi is not only the name of a monastery, but also the name of a town. Langmusi is located at the juncture of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan provinces, where there are charming natural sceneries and unique ethnic customs which attract many monks and pilgrims come here for religious practice. With the prosperity of tourism, this plateau town has become the hub of three provinces as well as the famous tourist resort. The full name of Langmusi is "Dacang Langmu Gerdi Monastery". In Tibetan language, "Dacang" means tiger cave, "Langmu" means fairy, and "Gerdi" is the name of the living Buddha who founded the monastery. Therefore, Langmusi is called Tiger Cave & Fairy Monastery as well. People must be wondering how the tiger cave and the fairy are tied together. This is because there was a stalactite with the image of a slim fairy in the cave, and it was said that there was also a fierce tiger in the cave in the old time. Therefore, it is called a place where there is a fairy in the tiger cave.


Langmusi is remarkable for its peaceful natural scenery and poetical landscape. The town and the hills are wreathed in mist all the year round. The hills are always so mysterious, the valleys are so deep and quiet and the town is extremely tranquil and tender. The town is divided into two parts by Bailong River: the northeast part is Langmusi Village which belongs to Maqu county, Gansu province; while the southwest part is Namu Village which belongs to Zoige County, Sichuan province. Because of different mountain shapes, the geography, vegetation and climate in the two villages are different. In Langmusi village, the mountain is gentle with more grass and less trees; whereas in Namu Village, the mountain is relatively steep with thick forests. Langmusi has the reputation of "Little Switzerland". People will feast their eyes on the charming scenery in Langmusi: under the clean blue sky, green trees make the shade; bright flowers are in full blooms; mountain brooks wind here and there; and birds' songs persist. The weather is changeable in a day here: in the dawn the rosy clouds spread all over the sky; in the morning the sun shines brightly; in the afternoon the wind sweeps away clouds and the rain falls down; in the evening the sky becomes clear again and the sunset glow appears.


There are about 1100 residents in Langmusi, most of whom are Tibetan, Hui, Salar and Bonan people and believe in Buddhism and Islam. Monastery is the heart of the region. There are two Buddhist monasteries and two mosques here. Gerdi Monastery is one of the largest and most influential Gelug Sect monasteries in Aba Prefecture in Sichuan province. Founded in 1412, this resplendent monastery administers 18 sub-monasteries with more than 500 monks. The most precious treasure in the monastery is the Buddha's relics of Dengbijianzan's (Gerdi the fifth) body. It is the oldest and best-preserved body relic in the whole Tibetan region. Through hundreds of years, the body skin is still elastic and bright as if the Living Buddha has never died. It's said that in the 1950s, the hair grew naturally. The eminent monk in the monastery cut the hair, and from then on the hair never grows. With golden powder on the surface, the body makes people esteem and worship. It is also the most mysterious life phenomena in the world. The monastery in the northwest is called Saichi Monastery, the sub-monastery of Drepung Monastery. It also belongs to Gelug Sect with white walls and glazed roofs. There are about 360 monks in this monastery. The celestial burial lies in more than 300 meters northwest to the monastery. With more than 400 years of history, it is one of the largest celestial burials in Amdo region. Surrounded by tricolor prayer flags and with flocks of vultures hovering lowly, it is not a murky and spooky place as imagined. Instead, it is the incarnation of God in the hearts of the Tibetan people. Here, death is not only intended for the end, but also means a new beginning. The Tibetan devotees regard celestial burial as the best way to return to nature. This unique funeral culture attracted many tourists in recent years. There are also Sichuan mosques and northwest mosques here. They are all large scaled with attractive appearance: traditional classic halls, upturned corners of roofs with a green vase and sickle moon on it. Mosques and lama monasteries stand together under the blue sky, conveying their faiths with different ways. This also makes people feel the tolerance of Buddhist culture and enjoy the glory of seeking common ground while reserving differences in the two religions and cultures.


As the birthplace of the holy river Bailong River, Langmusi Canyon in Sichuan province is the most beautiful and mysterious place in Langmusi region and is regarded as the spiritual land by Tibetans. It was said that the old grandmother Langmu once lived in the cave, thus it is the holiest shrine. Walking after a muddy uphill accompanied by a stream flowing down the mountain, you will come to an open meadow. In summer afternoon, the lamas of the nearby two monasteries often rest here, having a leisure stroll or a picnic under the sun umbrella. Walking along the brook, you will come to the entrance of the canyon where colorful prayer flags and white hadas fly in the air, making the canyon full of mystery and making people in awe. There are cliffs with pine trees on both sides of the canyon. This quiet and pristine environment owns a kind of magic and releases natural charm which attracts many people to explore. Moving forward to the central valley, there are numerous rocks in the brook and lush flowers on both sides.  As you walk in the path wind along mountain ridges, you will come to another open meadow. Horses and yaks scatter around and eat grass leisurely. When you turn back, the way has already been inundated by the clumps and you will find too many beautiful things to be fully appreciated. 


The majestic red conglomerate on the south side of Langmusi is called Sleeping Buddha Mountain by local people, because it looks like a Buddha sleeping on the ground. It likes a wall protecting Langmusi below. In the 1940s, an American missionary set foot on this magical land and had lived there until 1957. The magical legend, beautiful scenery and straightforward and bold custom in Langmusi prompted him to write the book of Tibet life, which attracted the attention of Westerners after being published in the United States. Travelers from all over the world came to visit Langmusi, making it a "internationalized" town. Strolling in Langmusi, you will see the magnificent monastery and the patchwork of wooden houses nestled among the lush cypress and fir trees, hear the sound of the running water in sparking Bailong River, taste cheese cake, butter tea, and barley wine and join in the village dance. It is really an enjoyable and entertaining experience.


Lots of Buddhist ceremonies are held in Tibet each year, and the main Buddhist ceremony in large-scale held at Langmusi (the monastery) is the Sunning of the Buddha Festival on the 13th day of the first month by lunar calendar. At early dawn, the monks in the monastery clean up the Buddha Sunning Platform and the Buddhist Activity Square, and thousands of monks from other monasteries gather here. The Buddhist Thangkas is a Tibetan Buddhist painting on paper, cloth, cotton, or silk, which are embroideries generally about ten meters wide and twenty meters long. It uses many natural paints such as turquoise, coral and gold, so that it will never fade. On the day of the Sunning of the Buddha Festival, the Buddhist Thangka will be aired in the sun on the Buddha Sunning Platform. In this way, the Thangkas will be protected from moldiness and insect bites. What's more, it is a special way for monks and believers to worship the Buddha. The Buddhists prostrate on the ground to worship and the Tibetans kneel down and kotow when the Thangka is slowly opened. On the day of the Sunning of the Buddha Festival, Tibetans wear colorful costumes for pilgrimage and take some harvest for exchange. In addition to the Sunning of the Buddha Festival, there are also a number of other Buddhist activities such as debate, dance, butter lamps show, treasure show and so on.

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