One of the most capable of the wise ministers of the 7th century Tibetan emperor, Thönmi Sambhota, was sent to India to invent an alphabet suitable for the Tibetan language. Until then the Tibetan only existed as a spoken language. However, it was necessary to translate the Buddhist texts into Tibetan and to transpose the phonetic sounds of the Tibetan language into a written form as this was done in the neighboring countries. Thönmi derived the new script from a pattern resembling the Sanskrit script used in India. The adoption of a certain form of script is an act of cultural importance with wide consequences going beyond the technical aspect of written communication. The creation of a script bearing the resemblance of Sanskrit meant that Tibet more than a thousand years ago joined the cultural world of India (1). However nowadays, this unique culture is threatened. The Tibetan identity is disappearing within China. In order to build a harmonious uniform and thus easily controlled society the Chinese government strives to eliminate all the cultural differences of the different ethnical groups. Thus the traditional way of life, values, religion and language are disappearing.
The aim of the Thonmi association is to make clear the different and sometimes confused facts about the cultures of Central and East Asia, to beat prejudice and to correct the received ideas. We do not want to idealize or support some of the Asian cultures without any critical insight. However, unfortunately this is what happens to a great extent with regard to Tibet and its people.
The objective of the association is to provide, in cooperation with professionals from research centers in Europe, such as the Humboldt University of Berlin or the Charles University in Prague, expert information on a highest possible level both to the general and the informed public. The association and its premises shall also serve as a center for cultural exchange aimed mainly at Tibet, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Our goal is to facilitate the exchange and presentation of different opinions, to promote planning and accomplishing of common Euro-Asian cultural and scientific projects and events.
The association chose to place its center to the border region of the Czech Republic (Šluknov region) which facilitates the contact between Czech, German and Polish public. There, between the communes of Vilémov and Mikulášovice plan to built a Research and Cultural Center for the Central Asian Regions. Unique in Europe, the building of the Center itself will be built in the typical Tibetan architectural style with the traditional Tibetan interior decorations emphasizing the influence of the lectures given and opinions shared both in the lecture hall and the library.
This cultural center will provide not only the premises for scheduled projects, workshops and cultural events but we also wish to welcome general public and schoolchildren for project days spent in the atmosphere of remote countries and cultures.
The construction of the Cultural Center, the restoring the pedestrian footbridge across the railway line and the upgrading of the old footpath into a tourist trail or an educational footpath will provide employment opportunities for local people and will help local development of this border region.