This paper examines the spatial structure and religious meanings of Tibetan temples and their surrounding landscape. By using the methods of field investigations and overlay mapping, the author found that Tibetan villages and temples occur above 3,000 meters. The mandala as the Buddhist cosmic model, infused with indigenous beliefs, is used to systematically structure the spatial organization of Tibetan temples and surroundings at various scales from stone landmarks to stupas, Buddha halls, temple complexes, landscape settings, and holy mountains. People circumambulate around these structures. This cultural landscape, like the mandala, nests a series of levels that are isomorphic, with bases becoming smaller and elevations higher towards the center. To sustain the cultural and natural landscape, this Buddhist cosmic model is used to weave nature, architecture, religious meanings, and human movements into a mandala world, which presents a living culture powerfully affecting and inspiring its visitors. Nature is the source of Tibetan Buddhism and indigenous worships. Religious beliefs, with respect to and fear of nature, serve as means to protect and sustain the unique cultural landscape and the vulnerable natural conditions in the Qingzang Plateau in China. Tibetan sustainable practices have presented some solutions by compromising the conflicts and creating coexistence between ecological balances, human development, and social and cultural values.
|Keywords:||Sustainability, Mandala, General Model, Systematically, Tibetan Buddhist Temple and Landscape, Tibetan Indigenous Beliefs, Circumambulation, Isomorphic, Nesting Patterns, Above 3000 meters altitude|
Professor, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
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