Home Institution

Washington and Lee University

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


The Thupchen monastery, or gompa, in Lomanthang is a site that hosts monumental 15th century Buddhist artworks, which reflect an abundant history from the key trade region of Upper Mustang, Nepal. This site, after neglect and use as a storage space until the 1990s, has seen radical change in the past two decades through an ongoing painting restoration project. Since these restorations began, there have been discrepancies between how scholars and restoration artists believe the work should be done, and how the local community of Lomanthang wants their monastery to be restored. This study aims to examine why the temple went out of use and halted its function as a devotional worship space, and why it became recognized as such a space once again in the 1990s. I will be discussing the value of restorations at the local level, since many locals of Lomanthang were employed through these restorations and received years of artistic training. By understanding and contextualizing the restoration methods and challenges at hand, this paper will demonstrate how the Thupchen monastery reflects cultural values of the local community of Lomanthang. Specifically, I will explore how locals perceive their own goals of conservation and preservation, and how this project provides a space for Buddhist women to engage in religious and artistic work, as well as how they understand their own role as women in these religious endeavors.


Art and Materials Conservation | Asian Art and Architecture | Asian Studies | Buddhist Studies | Sociology of Culture


Article Location