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Arts & Craft In Bhutan


Zorig Chusum: The Thirteen Traditional Arts & Crafts of Bhutan

In Bhutan, the traditional arts are known as Zorig chusum (zo = the ability to make; rig = science or craft; chusum = thirteen). These practices have been gradually developed through the centuries, often passed down through families with long-standing relations to a particular craft. These traditional crafts represent hundreds of years of knowledge and ability that has been passed down through generations.

The great 15th century terton, Pema Lingpa is traditionally credited with introducing the arts into Bhutan. In 1680, Ngawang Namgyal, the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, ordered the establishment of the school for instruction in the thirteen traditional arts. Although the skills existed much earlier, it is believed that the Zorig chusum was first formally categorized during the rule of Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye (1680-1694), the 4th Druk Desi (secular ruler).

Types of Arts & Crafts in Bhutan

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 Thangka, 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 jewelry and household items using sand casting and lost-wax casting. Larger statues are made by reposes.

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.

Trozo: (Silver- and gold-smiting) 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.

Tshemzo: (Needlework) Working with needle and thread to make clothes, boots, or the most intricate of applique Thangka.