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German museum says it has free reign to choose Tibetan treasures

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Essen, Germany (dpa) - A German art museum that is to stage a sumptuous exhibition of Tibetan Buddhist treasures next year said Thursday it had been given free reign to choose almost any of the items in the monasteries.

The show is to open August 19 at the Villa Huegel, the palatial, landscaped former home of the Krupp industrialist family in Essen.

About 150 works of art, ranging from sculptures to paintings and altar vessels, will be brought from Lhasa. After a three-month run at the Villa in western Germany, the show will continue in Berlin.

Dating from the 5th to the early 20th century, the items are to be chosen from sites including the Potala Palace in Lhasa and the Dalai Lama's Norbulingka summer palace. The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who lives in exile, is to be invited to see the show.

Professor Paul Vogt, acting chief of the Ruhr Cultural Foundation, said, "We have to take account of China, so we will obviously invite him here as a private individual, not as the leader of the Tibetans."

Vogt said the opportunity for a curator to select the exhibits would make the show unique. He said neither the authorities in China nor the monks at the monasteries had imposed any restrictions.

Jeong-hee Lee-Kalisch, a Berlin art-history professor, is to make the selection. She said, "One of the highlights will be a group of 10 bronze portrait sculptures. They are nearly life-sized and date from the early 16th century."

They would come from Midrol Ling monastery in central Tibet. Lee-Kalisch said the monks would be losing half the sculptures from their entrance hall for the duration of the show, but had been glad that their art would be made accessible to a wider audience.

Tibetan Culture Minister Jamyang said in Essen that 2,000 cultural monuments in Tibet received state funding.

Lee-Kalisch said the concept of an art exhibition had been unfamiliar to the monks, but they were keen that more people see it and regarded this as a "cultural and spiritual mission".

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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