List of 13 Traditional Arts And Crafts in Bhutan That Will Blow Your Mind
Traditions’ of Bhutan- the land of Thunder Dragon:
Bhutan is one of the most magnificent countries in the world and is landlocked between Tibetan China and India. This country is decked with mesmerizing high mountain peaks, sparkling rivers, amazing landscapes, and tranquil monasteries. Art in terms of traditions’ remains an essential part of Bhutan daily life which retains the purity and handcraft of ancient times that rarely manifests itself in Western Culture. These traditions have evolved in Bhutan to preserves the internal and external spirituality as well as the sacred beliefs of this mysterious land. Each piece of crafts created by them represents a religious experience for the Bhutanese people. And this is why the 13 Traditional Arts and Crafts, known as Zorig Chusum is considered to be one of the most consequential aspects of Bhutanese culture.
A few words on National Institute of Zorig Chusum:
Established in 1971, The National Institute of Zorig Chusum is the place where the young learn every aspect of the portrayal of spiritual values in each of the crafts. The institute is open to the public and it is possible to wander through the charming corridors. By entering the classrooms you can talk to the students, interact with them while they work and also learn from them. It gives you the great opportunity to be part of their cultural traditions of Bhutan.
Zorig Chusum-represents the tradition of Bhutan:
The 13 Arts & Crafts, in short, Zorig Chusum are deeply rooted in Buddhism. Each work of art contains the same principles and symbolisms as well as ideologies which make this practice so ancestral. However, if a work of art bears a name, it is usually the name of the person who commissioned it, not the artist’s, because the importance of the craft lies in the craft itself, not in those who produce it. These objects decorate every home, temple, and street. The ornaments are used every day as simple, yet beautiful tools.
Here we have mentioned about the 13 types of art & crafts in Bhutan:
1. Art of Calligraphy-Yigzo:
Previously, all the religious texts, as well as the official documents, were written by hand. Calligraphy is an ancient form of art that requires 6 qualities in his writing:
- Perfect Shape
In Bhutan there are different styles of scripts:
2. Art of Painting-Lhazo:
Bhutanese paintings represent the portrayal of the interaction of human beings with nature which traditionally practiced only by men. The colors of this craft can be appreciated in-
Those paintings often symbolize the spirituality, the significance of Buddhism, happiness and all things that proudly represent Bhutanese identity. Old paintings are preserved for their cultural value.
3. Art of Sculpting- Jimzo:
Bhutanese are famous for the intricacy of their clay sculpture, representing deities and religious figures. The most renowned craftsmen come from Heyphu monastery in Paro valley and have worked the world over. The quality of the image also comes from the mixture of clay and other materials such as paper have been used. Sculpture on clay is more ancient than sculpture on metals like bronze. The Sculpting is done by both male and female:
- Sculpting in a clay is male craft which is found in temples, monasteries, and Dzongs
- Women often did pottery which is still wildly used in everyday life
4. Art of Metal Casting- Lugzo:
The casting of metals requires specific techniques:
- Wax casting
- Sand casting
Wax casting is more time consuming than sand-casting and finishing of ornaments are done by hand. A good caster has to be skilled in several things-
5. Arts of Gold & Silver Crafts-Troezo:
Gold & Silver crafts were attached to large monasteries and to the Royal Family’s courts. Their work included lay objects like-
- Betel boxes
- Cup & Plates
- Musical and ritual instruments
- Cups and plates
6. Art of Woodcrafts- Shing zo:
A lot of care and skill needed for the construction of every building, bridge, temple, institute, palace, and Dzong, so woodwork seems to be the skeleton on Bhutan. The carpenters experienced in this field known as Zow Chen and they excel in creating true masterpieces. The example of a wood structure is the Punakha Dzong which is beautifully decorated.
7. Art of Embroidery- Tshemzo:
Embroidery was traditionally the crafted only by the men with a religious background. The technique of embroidery came from China via Tibet and was used for banners and ceremonial clothes. Today girls are taught embroidery in the National Institute of Zorig Chusum in Thimphu.
8. Art of Paper Making-Shogzo:
Paper is produced from the Daphne and edgeworthia shrubs. It is a lengthy and time-consuming process:
- The shredded bark is boiled in a large vat
- Then it is reduced into pulp
- Then it is spread onto a bamboo net or onto a cotton cloth.
- The paper spread onto a bamboo net is called tshar shog which is thick, darkish and strong.
- The paper is spread onto a cotton cloth is called reshog which is whitish and thinner.
- Then the large sheets (A3 size) are dried in the sun and smoothen.
The sheets were used to write religious texts, official documents but also to wrap objects and were bartered with goods from Tibet.
9. Art of Masonry- Dozo:
It is another creativity of Bhutan produced by the crafts workers. Cutting and dressing the stones was a special craft practiced by skilled labor but the masons were under the supervision of the carpenter who acted as the architect. Besides stones for the walls, masons also prepare flat stones for the courtyards.
10. Art of Carving- Parzo:
It includes slate carving, stone carving as well as the most popular woodcarving. Wood carving is extremely important for printing purposes and requires a properly oiled woodblock. Woodcarving is also done on windows, pillars, and capitals.
11. Art of Textiles- Thagzo:
Textiles were woven almost exclusively by women. Some highlighted points-
- They are made of silk, cotton and wool yarns as well as highly decor
- After a long hand-made vegetal dying process, or the purchase of ready-made threads, they are woven on backstrap looms or on pedal looms.
- The most spectacular weave called Kishuthara includes the brocade technique.
- Women have taken up weaving as a profession and some men have joined them.
- The Textile Museum and academy in Thimphu is raising the profile of Bhutanese textiles which creates a great encouragement for the weavers.
12. Arts of Cane & Bamboo Weaving- Tsharzo:
Cane and bamboo products are always preferable as domestic items for the villagers. Villagers living near bamboo groves usually cut, split, dry and weave the bamboos to make fencing for the fields or roofs mats for temporary sheds. Domestic items such as plates, baskets, quivers, sieves, alcohol containers were woven in semi-tropical regions and villagers used both the outer and inner layers of the bamboo.
13. Art of Blacksmithy- Garzo:
The art of ironwork is known as Garzo in Bhutan. On the way from Paro to Thimphu, you can explore this art form in the bridge over Paro-Chhu. The blacksmiths were famous for their skills in making-
- Chains amours
- Different kind of swords
Swords had a name according to their location and maker’s name.
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