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A monk practicing asceticism in Tibet.

The Gyantse sacred area is dominated by the Kumbum; a stupa like image temple founded in 1427 that takes the form of a three dimensional mandala. Within the 77 small chambers that encircle the structure are many elaborate paintings and sculptures. As one walked around and up onto this structure the sacred imagery becomes increasingly complex and culminates in the upper chambers with a series of massive mandalas.

Massive walled monasteries like the Sakya complex, which was founded in 1073, have their roots in India and Central Asia. Such monasteries were important for the spread of Buddhism across the Tibetan plateau with their elaborate image halls and libraries.

Tibet - Re-visit this shot by CoolbieRe, via Flickr