Bhutan Arts & Crafts
Bhutanese art is religiously inspired and is mainly influenced by Tibetan Buddhist art Bhutanese have practised it for centuries and developed own art forms and themes.
Bhutanese art is characterized by anonymity, religiosity and no aesthetic function by itself. The statues and intricate paintings have religious themes, unlike the western modern paintings. These statues and painting once commissioned should always be consecrated as per religious aspect.
Bhutanese art is unique and affiliated with the religion, therefore, considered sacred. Traditional arts and crafts are an important cultural heritage which has been practiced from time immemorial. Bhutanese art is displayed in the form of clothing, housing , monuments , paintings , sculptures , etc. hand woven clothing , handmade baskets ,plates ,cups, furniture , music instruments are some of the items used on a daily basis.
Houses are built with traditional architecture and adorned with paintings of Buddhist symbols such as the eight lucky signs. As per Bhutanese believe they keep away the evil eyes and also brings in good luck to the householders.
The Traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts are categorized into thirteen, since 17th century during the reign of Gyelse Tenzin Rabgay, the temporal ruler of Bhutan.
In order to keep the traditional heritage alive in the modern world, the Government of Bhutan has issued the royal decree to build the houses in traditional design and also initiated a painting school called Zorig Chusum(thirteen arts and crafts). Students learn arts in a duration of 4-6 years in the school and becomes a professional artist after graduation. Thirteen traditional arts and crafts are as follows;
- Dezo - Paper Making. Handmade paper made mainly from the Daphne plant and gum from a creeper root.
- Dozo – Stonework. Stone arts used in the construction of stone pools and the outer walls of dzongs, gompas, stupas and some other buildings.
- Garzo – Blacksmithing. The manufacture of iron goods, such as farm tools, knives, swords, and utensils.
- Jinzo - Clay arts. The making of religious statues and ritual objects, pottery and the construction of buildings using mortar, plaster, and rammed earth.
- Lhazo – Painting. From the images on thangkas, walls paintings, and statues to the decorations on furniture and window-frames.
- Lugzo - Bronze casting. Production of bronze roof-crests, statues, bells, and ritual instruments, in addition to jewellery and household items using sand casting and lost-wax casting. Larger statues are made by repoussé.
- Parzo - Wood, slate, and stone carving in wood, slate or stone, for making such items as printing blocks for religious texts, masks, furniture, altars, and the slate images adorning many shrines and altars.
- Shagzo – Woodturning. Making a variety of bowls, plates, cups, and other containers.
- Shingzo – Woodworking. Employed in the construction of dzongs and gompas.
- Thagzo – Weaving. The production of some of the most intricately woven fabrics produced in Asia.
- Trözo – Silversmith and goldsmith. Working in gold, silver, and copper to make jewelry, ritual objects, and utilitarian household items.
- Tshazo - Cane and bamboo work. The production of such varied items as bows and arrows, baskets, drinks containers, utensils, musical instruments, fences, and mats.
- Tshemazo – Needlework. Working with needle and thread to make clothes, boots, or the most intricate of appliqué thangkas.
These arts are still being practiced all over the country with their own special origins like weaving in eastern Bhutan, Bamboo in central Bhutan and paper making in western Bhutan.
Articles for everyday use are still fashioned today as they were centuries ago. Traditional artisanship is handed down from generation to generation. Bhutan's artisans are skilled workers in metals, wood and slate carving, and clay sculpture. Artefacts made of wood include bowls and dishes, some lined with silver. Elegant yet strong woven bamboo baskets, mats, hats, and quivers find both functional and decorative usage. Handmade paper is prepared from tree bark by a process passed down the ages.
Each region has its specialties. Raw silk comes from eastern Bhutan, brocade from Lhuntshi woollen goods from Bumthang, bamboo wares from Kheng, woodwork from Tashi Yangtse, gold and silver work from Thimphu, and yak-hair products from the north or the Black Mountains.
Most Bhutanese art objects are produced for the use of the Bhutanese themselves. Except for goldsmiths, silversmiths, and painters, artisans are peasants who produce these articles and fabrics in their spare time, with the surplus production being sold. Most products, particularly fabrics, are relatively expensive. In the highest qualities, every step of production is performed by hand, from dyeing hanks of thread or hacking down bamboo in the forest, to weaving or braiding the final product.
The time spent in producing handicrafts is considerable and can involve as much as two years for some woven textiles. At the same time, many modern innovations are also used for less expensive items, especially modern dyes, and yarns. Bhutan must be one of the few places where hand-woven polyester garments can be bought.
Traditional woven textiles are the most popular for Tshechus. The mosaic of colours and traditional Bhutanese art is displayed in various forms. Hand woven items such as kira ,gho, kabney ,rachu , tsholham ,tego ,wonju etc. materials such as cotton , silk ,brocade are used to carefully design each and every piece of art.
In an effort to promote cultural heritage the government has initiated a collective display of all traditional goods in a systematic manner with a wide range of shops in the heart of the city. One can visit the handicrafts bazaar located just above the TajTashi hotel in Norzin lam.
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