Bhutan’s endangered temple art treasures

Reclusive kingdom located between India and China has asked for advice on preserving masterworks from the 16th-19th centuries
Dalya Alberge
Courtesy: The Observer (
A 17th-century paintings of the Lama Lhakhang in Trongsa dzong.

British art experts have been given unique access to the hidden heritage of the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, including spectacular 16th- to 19th- century wall paintings from its 2,000 temples and monasteries.

Specialists from the Courtauld Institute have been amazed by the exquisite quality and technical sophistication of paintings that were largely unknown and unrecorded in the west. Professor David Park, from the Courtauld, said: “The wall paintings are absolutely stunning. Some of the earlier examples, especially, are extraordinary.” Continue reading Bhutan’s endangered temple art treasures

The Buddhist Outlook & Bhutan

Written by ManjuWakhley, Oxford,UK
Since Bhutan is predominantly a Buddhist country, policies often stem from Buddhist perception and ethics. Buddhist philosophy stresses the importance of all sentient beings and how all beings are interdependent. This notion also agrees with the scientific ecosystem theory that all species have a place and a function. The relationship between human beings and the environment is seen in a fundamentally different way as compared to the western approach. While the latter is based on the Christian instrumental view that nature exists solely for the benefit of mankind, the Buddhist concept of Sunyata (Form and Emptiness) holds that no subject or object has an independent existence; rather it dissolves into a web of relationships with all dimensions of its environment. Buddhism perceives reality as circular and not linear unlike western thought, which means human form is a part of the Karmic cycle and is really difficult to obtain, all forms are transient and therefore sustainable development is in everybody’s self interest instead of just that of the nature and future. Bhutan has never exploited it natural resources on grounds of commercial profitability. Continue reading The Buddhist Outlook & Bhutan

The little Buddhas

Clay tshatshas in a cave near Taba in Thimphu

Clay tshatshas in a cave near Taba in Thimphu

They are in caves and beside lakes, on chortens and near lhakhangs. They are flat or conical. Sonam Rinchen finds out more about tshatshas.

Once seen on every conceivable ledge and crevice along footpaths and around religious sites, tshatshas have now become less known and rare.

Derived from Sanskrit, tshatsha literally means copy or image. A form of Buddhist idol worship, tshatshas are clay impressions cast from a mould with an image of a deity or a sacred symbol engraved into it.

Tshatshas are made to be put inside prayer wheels, statues, chortens and monasteries, or to be laid out in caves, on mountaintops and rooftops, or even to be worn as amulets. Buddhist practitioners say that in Bhutan, tshatsha’s meaning is limited and generally confined to cone-shaped images usually placed in caves and crevices. Continue reading The little Buddhas