Chorten Nyingpo is a monastery in Kabisa, Punakha, that was built by Gyalsay Tenzin Rabgye in the 17 century. Chorten Nyingpo Lhakhang, was renovated recently using the art of conservation for inner mural paintings so they looked as old as they were.
A culture department conservator, Tashi Lhendup, who worked on the restoration of mural paintings in the lhakhang, said they used mud grout injection, retouching and balancing the paintings, without losing the original form of the art works.
“We restore the lost portion of the art, using the same material and same colour of the art,” he said. He explained the mud grout injection was used to fill the gap between the wall and the painting, due to movement in the wall over the years.
“We inject mud grout in between the gap through a small hole that we might find in the cloth sheet of the painting,” he said. “That way we don’t have to pull off the painting, which otherwise would cause major loss in the artwork’s originality.”
The lost portion of the paintings were retouched and lost colours, balanced using the same colour of same materials. “For instance, the colour used in the mural painting in this lhakhang was the industrial pigment and we used the same colour while retouching the lost portions,” Tashi Lhendup said. Meanwhile, for the villagers around the monastery, the renovation brought them fulfillment and relief.
“The monastery was almost in ruins, had it not been for the renovation initiatives,” 60-year-old Sonam Penjor said. “The roof was leaking, because of which the damage to the murals and the statues inside.”
Punakha cultural officer Sonam Wangchuk said the renovation initiative first began in 2004, with budget from the gewog. “It took long, since the renovation had to be taken up in different phases” he said.
The budget since 2009, he said, accounted for almost Nu. 10M, and the feeder road to the monastery was also gravel-laid, benefiting numerous households and farmlands along the road.
The wooden parts of the monastery, dzopoen (chief carpenter) Sonam Penjor said, were completely replaced with new ones, while adding a few monastic structural designs that were left wanting so far.
The monastery, built on a hilltop in Kabji gewog in Punakha, served as the winter residence for Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye in the past.
A new zimchung (cottage) for the Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye was also built to revive the tradition, which waned following his death in 1696.
“Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye’s reincarnation will begin the tradition of using the monastery as his winter residence,” cultural officers said.
Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye consecrated the renovated monastery on 5th May, 2012. The Prime Minister and other senior civil servants joined the ceremony.