The Arts & Crafts of Bhutan
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Religious Art
Traditional Handicrafts

In Bhutan the series of traditional skills or crafts is defined as zorig chusum. Zo means the ability to make, rig stands for the science or craft, chusum is thirteen. These refer to those practices that have been gradually developed through the centuries, often passed down through families with long-standing relations to a particular craft. Although the skills existed well before, across the country's isolated settlements, it is believed that the zorig chusum was first formally categorized during the rule of Tenzin Rabgye (1680-94), the 4th Desi (secular ruler). The following provides a brief overview of the thirteen traditional crafts:

DEZO - Paper Art
Handmade paper made mainly from the Daphne plant and gum from a creeper root.

DOZO - Masonry
Stone arts used in the construction of stone pools and the outer walls of dzongs, monasteries, stupas and some other buildings.

GARZO - Blacksmithing
The manufacture of iron goods, such as farm tools, knives, swords and utensils.

JINZO - Sculpture
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 (religious wall hangings), walls paintings and statues to the decorations on furniture and window-frames.

LUGZO - Casting
Production of bronze roof-crests, statues, bells and ritual instruments, in addition to jewelry and household items using sand casting and the lost wax method.

PARZO - 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 - Woodwork
Employed in the construction of dzongs, monasteries, houses and much smaller household goods.

THAGZO - Weaving and dying
The entire process of weaving from the preparation of yarn, the dying and final weaving to produce designs ranging from the most simple to the fantastically intricate.

TROKO - Ornament-making
Working in gold, silver and copper to make jewelry, ritual objects and more practical household items.

TSHAZO - Cane and Bamboo Working
The production of such varied items as bows and arrows, baskets, drinks containers, utensils, musical instruments, fences and mats.

TSHEMZO - Embroidery and Stitching
Working with needle and thread to make clothes, boots or the most intricate of appliqué thangkas (religious wall hangings).

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