Saturday, May 05, 2007

Nepalese shepherd leads archaeologists to art treasures
A shepherd in a remote region of Nepal bordering Tibet has been instrumental in the discovery of an extraordinary art treasure that lay hidden for centuries: a collection of 55 exquisite cave paintings depicting the life of the Buddha.

The 12th-century paintings - a large central mural flanked by smaller panels - were found last month in a partly collapsed cave last month in Mustang, a kingdom long forbidden to foreigners in the high Himalayas, 150 miles north-west of Kathmandu. "Finding the cave was almost like a miracle," said Italian art conservator Luigi Fieni, a member of the team of Italian, American and Nepalese art conservators, conservation architects and archaeologists. They used ice axes to cut their way to the cave, at 3,400 metres.