Institute of Zorig Chusum, Thimphu, Bhutan

When we said in the Bhutan Country File that we figure the entire country should be inscribed as a World Heritage Site? We were only half-joking about that. Pretty sure there isn’t any other country on the planet that holds onto its heritage as tightly as Bhutan does —

— architecture is required to respect tradition, working dress is required to respect tradition, in every way tradition is respected to a depth that borders on incomprehensible to those from globalist societies.

Which brings us to this post’s visit! Along with those outer appearances of tradition, the country actively develops skills in traditional Bhutanese arts, the Zorig Chusum:

The arts and crafts of Bhutan that represents the exclusive “spirit and identity of the Himalayan kingdom” is defined as the art of Zorig Chosum, which means the “thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan”; the thirteen crafts are carpentry, painting, paper making, blacksmithery, weaving, sculpting and many other crafts. The Institute of Zorig Chosum in Thimphu is the premier institution of traditional arts and crafts set up by the Government of Bhutan with the sole objective of preserving the rich culture and tradition of Bhutan and training students in all traditional art forms…

The students take four to six year courses, all covered by the government. Here is an excellent piece from another visitor:

Bhutan: Traditional Arts and the Tashichhoe Dzong in Thimphu

Passed down from generation to generation, studying these arts and crafts today involves an intensive 4-6 years of training at the Institute. Students live at the Institute’s hostel where the government of Bhutan finances room and board, and find opportunities for employment once finished with the studies. For example, “instructors and students paint houses, thangkas, and temples, and create other culturally significant art objects. They contribute their skills to the beautification of both public and private buildings.”

If you’re into traditional arts, this is the kind of place you’ve dreamed of visiting. Wandering around the classes you see everything from paintings small

Bhutan Painting (Small)

and large

Bhutan Painting (Large)

to woodcarving

Bhutan Woodcarving

to sculpting

Bhutan Sculpting

to weaving

Bhutan Weaving

to embroidery

Bhutan Embroidery

So, yeah. If you’re looking for authentically traditional craftsmanship in the Bhuddist tradition … Bhutan is the place that you’ll find it!


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