The Matho Monastery has been a haven for followers of the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism since 1410, when it was established by the Sakya scholar Dorjie Palzang. Nestled in the Himalayan foothills and overlooking the Indus river, Matho is a rare gem in the Ladakh region of India. Ladakh is one of a few predominantly Buddhist regions remaining in South Asia, and Matho is its only Sakya Monestary in the Indus Valley. Until the initiation of the Matho Museum Project, the monastery was known for its yearly oracle festival in spring. Now, the monastery’s singular collection of devotional art has begun to attract attention.
The collection is exceptional for its size, diversity and quality. It is Dungsey Vajra’s wish to restore the monastery’s collection and ensure the survival of these sacred pieces for the next millennium.
After centuries of devotional use and exposure to the harsh climate of Ladakh, some of the pieces are in need of serious repair if they are to survive. Local and international restorers will clean and restore the most distinctive pieces and create an inventory of all objects to file with the International Council of Museums. In the long term, the project hopes to have the monastery declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Matho Museum Project will not only restore these artefacts and build a museum on the 15th century base of the monastery. It will create a sustainable economic base for the region by training a local restoration team in internationally accepted techniques.
The Matho Monastery Cultural and Welfare Society, which represents the monks of Matho will ultimately run the museum. The Matho Museum Project is an international arts preservation project funded by the Good Karma Foundation (a registered charity in England & Wales) and the Himalayan Arts Preservation Association (France).
The Museum will cover three levels and will be constructed within the monastery complex on an existing 15th century stone structure that will be restored for this purpose. Design will follow the Sakyapa style of the 15th century and will blend in with the existing monastery complex.
Only traditional methods and materials will be used for construction. The pieces of art on display at the Matho Museum will be devotional in nature. These visual representations of Buddhism rely heavily on scripture, which provides the context for allegorical images.