''SHANGRI-LA'' CAVE PICTURES: Art, Texts, Bones Revealed

''SHANGRI-LA'' CAVE PICTURES: Art, Texts, Bones Revealed
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Although looters have raided the Mustang caves over the centuries, Coburn's team was able to collect and record manuscripts (above, a pile of documents inside one of the caves) from about 30 volumes of religous text.

Preserved by the mountain region's cool, arid climate, the ancient manuscripts contain a mix of writings from Buddhism and Bön, an earlier, native Tibetan faith, Coburn said.

This combination suggests that Bön beliefs survived for at least a century or two in this region after the Tibetan conversion to Buddhism, which began in the eighth century.

ON TV Lost Cave Temples of the Himalayas and Secrets of Shangri-La premiere Wednesday, November 18, on PBS (check local listings).
—Photograph courtesy Kris Erickson
 
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