Monday, May 7, 2007

Priceless Buddha paintings found in Nepal

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Published: May 4, 2007 at 12:54 PM E-mail Story Print Preview License

Priceless Buddha paintings found in Nepal
MUSTANG, Nepal, May 4 (UPI) -- A snow leopard's cave chanced upon by a shepherd in the remote Mustang area of Nepal has yielded priceless treasures of centuries-old Buddhist cave paintings.
The treasure trove, unearthed last month in the partially collapsed cave in the former forbidden kingdom near the Tibetan border, includes 55 exquisite paintings depicting the life of Buddha, Britain's Guardian reported Friday. Prince Siddhartha, who became Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana, or perfect blessedness, was born in Lumbini in today's Himalayan kingdom of Nepal around the Fifth Century, B.C.

The paintings in the 11,000-foot high Mustang cave, about 180 miles northwest of Nepal's capital Kathmandu, date as far back as the 12th century and were unearthed by a team of Italian, American and Nepalese conservators and archaeologists.

"Finding the cave was almost like a miracle," said Luigi Fieni, whose team had been working in the area for nine years to restore wall paintings in a 15th century Tibetan monastery.

It was while asking around about other art treasures in the area that a villager told the team about seeing the cave as a boy.

The paintings were reported to be somewhat similar to the famous Ajanta paintings, which are in India's western Maharashtra state.

For now, the location of Mustang cave has not been disclosed as a precaution against art smugglers. It is simply called "The Snow Leopard cave," as a leopard's footprints were found inside, the Guardian said.

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