Samye in the Tibetan language means edgeless temple. It combined the Han, Tibetan and Indian architectural styles, and is thus called the three-style temple. The monastery mingled the ancient Tibetan culture, the civilzation of the Central Plains and the civilization of India. It is a bright and shining pearl in the culture of the Chinese nation. Built during the reign of the Tibetan King Trisun Detsan in the middle of the 8th century, it has a history of more than 1,200 years. Located at the foot of Habort Mountain on the north bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River in Chanang County, it looks spectacular and magnificent. It boasts many Tibetan cultural relics and historical artifacts. After the completion of the construction, the first batch of Tibetans were tonsured and became monks. Samye Monastery therefore became the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
Samye Monastery has collected many kinds of cultural legacies in terms of history, religion, architecture, and art from all periods since the Tubo Kingdom. These include a horizontal inscribed board hand written by an emperor, a 4.9-meter high inscribed tablet and a bronze bell that has nine different tones. The frescoes of the Samye Monastery are well-known in the world for their wide variety of subjects, rich content and exquisite artistic skills. The Tibetan Epic Picture, for example, records the history from the ancient legend of the marriage between a Raksasi and a magical monkey to the reproduction and evolution of humans until the achievements of the 9th Dalai Lama. The 92-meter-long picture is a rare jewel in the Tibetan fresco treasures.
Samye Monastery has experienced a dozen centuries since its completion. It was once ruined by Lang Darma in the late Tubo period. Lang Darma banned Buddhism and destroyed Buddhist temples. In the early 10th century, the Sagya Prince of Dharma rebuilt the monastery. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, the Chinese Government paid due attention to the old architecture and the protection of the relics in the monastery, and earmarked special funds for its maintenance. In 1962, the Preparation Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region listed Samye Monastery as a key cultural relics unit under State protection.