(TibetanReview.net, Dec20’23) – Monasteries with their distinct architectural designs, prayer flags fluttering in the wind, and mani stone piles remain enduring symbols of Tibetan Buddhist identity. But now, China appears to have begun cracking down on the mani stone engraving practice in its ongoing drive to Sinicize Tibetan Buddhism and to crackdown on religion in general.
On Dec 12, Chinese police have detained four Tibetans for organizing a mani-stone engraving exhibition in Yushu Prefecture of Qinghai Province, accusing them of misusing religion and “deceiving the masses.”
Mani-stones bear engravings of “Om mani padme hum,” the six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara, the patron deity of Tibet, and can contain engravings of other mantras as well. Tibetans place such stones and slates along roads and rivers, and their large numbers accumulated over time often form large piles or long walls.
This year, a Mani Stone Sculpture Exhibition was organized in Jyekundo (Chinese: Gyegu/Jiegu). It was an unusually large event with thousands of Mani Stones on display.
On Dec 12, Chinese police intervened, shut down the exhibition, and detained its organizers – two brothers called Nyima and Lhoga and their friends Tsedar and Rinchen – reported bitterwinter.org, the website of a magazine on religious liberty and human rights, Dec 20.
The report said the police accused them of misusing religion and “deceiving the masses.”
The report felt that it was probably the size of the event which led to the police crackdown.