Bhutan is known for preserving precious art forms that has been passed down from the ancestral times. Since the traditional era, there are 13 different types of arts and crafts practiced in Bhutan, collectively termed as Zorig Chusum. All 13 arts are rooted in Buddhism and believed to have been introduced by Terton Pema Lingpa in the 15th century.
Zorig Chusum is found in Thimphu and Trashi Yangtse Dzongkhag and was established in 1971 by Government of Bhutan in 1971 to preserve and promote traditional art in the Country. Today, these well-preserved art forms are still thriving and the art pieces produces locally are sold as souvenirs in many places across Bhutan. Plus, profits from each piece sold goes into funding the local people’s education in local arts, a win for all!
Before you plan your shopping list, let’s take a look at the various art forms rooted into the Bhutanese culture.
LhaZo – Art Of Painting
In Bhutanese Painting the material used is Unique natural pigments and mineral paints made out of various colours of soil. The black lumps of soil are known as ‘sa na’, and red lumps as ‘Tsag sa’, for instance.
The painters are called Lha Rips and they paint on canvases, walls, frescoes, wood, paper, stone, and fabric among other things. A perfect example of this art form is the massive Thongdrols or thangkas, huge scrolls depicting religious figures that are displayed during annual religious festivals. The mere sight of these enormous scrolls is believed to cleanse the viewer of his sins and bring him closer to attaining nirvana. Thus, it brings merit not only to the believers but to the painters as well.
JimZo- Art Of Sculpting
Bhutanese believe religious icons created using the Jimzo clay-working technique—their practitioners are called Jimzops. This art form preceded other artworks like metal and bronze sculpting was introduced. These clay statues usually portray deities like Guru Rinpoche, Buddha, Zhabdrung Rinpoche and other Buddhist imagery.
Clay sculpting in Bhutan is more of a male craft usually found in temples, monasteries and dzongs, whereas, pottery is more a female craft employed in way of life. You may find these delicate and delightful clay statues in temples across the country; however, the tall statues in Paro Taktsang are a must-see.
ThagZo – Art Of Textiles
Textiles were woven nearly solely by ladies. This textile is an integral part of Bhutanese culture and life. Women of the eastern Kingdom of Bhutan area unit trained at weaving and a few of the foremost extremely prized textiles area unit woven by them. Khoma village in Lhuentse is legendary for Kushithara, whereas Radhi and Bidung area unit is proverbial for Pabir textiles, particularly Mentsi Matha and Aikapur.
TshaZo – Arts Of Cane & Bamboo Weaving
Bhutan is richly stocked with bamboos and canes of various species. Villagers take advantage of these abundant natural resources. People living near bamboo groves usually cut, split, dry and weave the Bamboo to make fencing for the fields or roof mats for temporary sheds. The skill of weaving cane and bamboo products. Widely called TsharZo, this art is unfolded throughout the country and merchandise like baskets, winnowers, mats, and Palangs and Bangchungs were additionally created out of Bamboo.
ShagZo – Art Of Woodturning
The art of wood turning is known as Shagzo and is traditionally practiced by the people of Trashiyangtse in eastern Bhutan. The master craftsmen of this vibrant art are called Shag Zopa. They’re famed for the wooden cups and bowls traditionally called Dapas and Phobs. These wooden bowls are products of special wooden knots called Zaa and are highly valued. Until the arrival of steel and brass, these bowls were widely employed by the Bhutanese. Today they’re typically sold at craft markets and offered as gifts.
ShingZo – Art Of Woodcrafts
Much care and skill are needed to construct every building, bridge, temple, institute, palace, and Dzong, so woodwork seems to be the skeleton of Bhutan. The carpenters experienced during this field referred to as Zow Chen excel in creating true masterpieces. An example of a wood structure is that the Punakha Dzong which is beautifully decorated.
DoZo – Art Of Masonry
It is another creativeness of the Kingdom of Bhutan made by the crafts workers. Cutting and dressing the stones were a special craft practiced by skilful labour however the masons were beneath the oversight of the carpenter who acted as the architect. Besides stones for the walls, masons additionally prepare flat stones for the courtyards.
ParZo – Art Of Carving
It includes slate carving, and stone carving yet because of the most well-liked woodcarving. Wood carving is extraordinarily necessary for printing functions and needs a properly oiled woodblock. Woodcarving is additionally done on windows, pillars, and capitals.
LugZo – Art Of Metal Casting
Between the period of time(stone Age) and the Iron Age, we’ve got the Bronze Age around 3500 BC. Bronze was normally accustomed to forged containers like cups, urns, and vases. folks additionally formed bronze into weapons and armour like battle- axes, helmets, knives, swords and shields. Bronze casting in the Kingdom of Bhutan was introduced solely within the seventeenth century and was in the main unfold through the visiting Newari artisans that came from Nepal. The Newars were 1st invited by Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal to forge bronze statues and non secular things like bells and water-providing bowls. it had been through these artisans that the art was introduced and nowadays, quite an few Bhutanese apply bronze casting.
TshemZo – Art Of Embroidery
Embroidery was historically crafted solely by men with a religious background. The technique of embroidery came from China via Tibet and was used for banners and ceremonial garments. nowadays ladies square measure educated embroidery at the National Institute of Zorig Chusum in Thimphu.
DeZo – Art f Paper Making
Dezo, the papermaking art of Bhutan (Source)Made from the bark, fiber and pulp of Daphne and Edgeworthia plants, the art of papermaking in Bhutan is known as Dezo. The master papermakers also called Dezop, are responsible for making this beautiful and termite and insect repellent paper with extensive care.
All the sacred and spiritual scriptures in manuscript books for monks were accustomed be written on Dezo with traditional ink, sometimes even gold. Handmade papermaking may be an important part of Bhutanese tradition and culture.
GarZo – Art Of Blacksmith
The suspension Bridge over Paro Chu was Introduced in the 14th century by Tibetan religious saint, Thangtong Gyalpo. Today these blacksmiths build not only bridges but also agricultural tools, chains, knives, swords, daggers and armour.
TroeZo – Arts Of Gold & Silver Crafts
Ornaments in Bhutan are made using Precious Stones with Gold and Silver Using corals, turquoise, stone and most significantly, gold and silver, the Bhutanese art of constructing metal ornaments are called TroeZo.
Gold & Silver crafts were connected to giant monasteries and to the Royal Family’s courts. Their work included lay objects like – Ornaments, Teapots, Betel boxes, cups & Plates, Musical and rituals, instruments, Butter-lamps, Cups and plates.
There’s plentiful of souvenir selection and it’s hard not to pick a piece or two for keepsake. If you would like to learn more about how these art pieces are made, we can arrange an exclusive visit where you get up close with the local artist and see them in action as they craft their art pieces.