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Arts and Crafts

The most exciting and vital aspects of the Bhutanese tradition and heritage are found in its art and crafts. Much of Bhutan’s spiritual and intellectual life is manifested through its arts. Bhutanese arts are not primarily concerned with abstract concepts of ‘beauty’ (that may appeal to few), but with interpretation of values and beliefs that are held by the vast majority and which embody the eternal stream of life or consciousness. It is a subjective process deeply imbued with a strong sense of morality, with many art forms epitomizing the eternal struggle between forces of good and evil. Bhutanese art and crafts, particularly those that are religious in their thematic content follow strict iconographic rules. Merit can be earned only if the prescribed rules are strictly followed. The use of creative energy is used mostly in secular artistic ventures. Zorig Chusum or the 13 aspects of Bhutanese arts and crafts include shinzo (woodwork), dozo (stonework), jinzo (clay crafts), lugzo (bronze casting), parzo (wood, slate and stone carving), lazo (painting), shagzo (wood turning), garzo (black smithy), troeko (silver and gold smithy), tsharzo (bamboo and cane crafts), dhezo (papermaking), thagzo (weaving) and tshemzo (tailoring). The skills of Bhutan’s craftsmen, working with bronze, silver and other fine metals, is seen in myriad ways; statues of deities, doors and pillars of temples, bells, trumpets, swords, tables, candlesticks, rich boxes, and jewelry. Wooden crafts include a wealth of items from bowls to finely worked bamboo hats, baskets, butter containers, and bows and arrows.