The Handicrafts of Bhutan symbolizes the identity of the country and its uniqueness in craftsmanship. It also depicts generations of distinctive traditional and cultural practices of Bhutanese people. Practice and promotion of arts and crafts in Bhutan existed as early as Zhabdrung’s time, i.e., the 16th century, through support and patronage from various experts. Although painting, sculpturing, and calligraphy skills were limited to monks, the knowledge soon reached and spread to villages.
Although, there is no organized undertaking in the rural areas, where majority of the population lives, the practice of the locally manufacturing woven fabrics,
wooden masks, cane and bamboo products, wooden bowls and cups, handmade paper, etc. are undertaken during the winter season when the farmers have less farm works. Such practice has enabled particular craftsmanship to pass down from generation to generation among the farmers.The Handicrafts of Bhutan can be divided broadly into 13 categories of arts and crafts known as the ‘Zorig Chusum’ – the thirteen sciences of arts and crafts. (Zo – to make, rig – science, chusum – thirteen). These skills represent the tradition, culture and history of Bhutan.
These thirteen arts and crafts are:
- Weaving (Thagzo)
- Cane and Bamboo crafts (Tsharzo)
- Woodworks (Shingzo)
- Painting (Lhazo)
- Stonework (Dozo)
- Clay Crafts (Jinzo)
- Bronze Casting (Lugzo)
- Wood, Slate and Stone Carving (Parzo)
- Wood Turning (Shagzo)
- Black-Smithy (Garzo)
- Silver and Gold Smithy (Dhezo)
- Tailoring and Embroidery (Tshemzo)
- Paper Making (Dezo)
Visiting Jungshi Handmade paper
The Jungshi handmade paper factory uses traditional methods to produce the authentic Bhutanese paper known as Deh-sho.
It is located approximately 1 km from Thimphu City. The factory uses the bark of two tree species, the Daphne tree and Dhekap tree in the manufacture of traditional paper. Visitors can observe the entire process of producing handmade paper using ancient traditional methods that have been practiced for generations. You can even try your hand at this ancient craft and make some paper of your very own as a souvenir. Deh-sho paper was originally used by monasteries for woodblock and manuscript books and also for writing prayer books.
The Jungshi paper factory continues to preserve and promote this age-old Bhutanese tradition. It also produces various other products, such as stationery and greeting cards.