Today we visited the Institute of Traditional Arts (Zorig Chusum) in Timphu. Bhutanese customs believe that there are 13 different types of art one must master; in this institute 6 of the 13 traditional arts are taught. These arts include woodcarving, sculpture, tailoring, embroidery, and painting. We visited several classrooms and saw the students hard at work, from the less advanced courses to the more advanced. The first classrooms we entered were Woodcarving I and II, there we saw the process of woodcarving from the simple to the intricate carvings of dragons displayed on the walls. We then visited a Sculpture V classroom which featured a class of mostly girls, and the number of students was larger than all the other classes we visited. We found it interesting to learn that students in the tailoring class worked on both traditional and western wear. The classroom we entered next was the Embroidery IV, this was the most colorful classroom of all, as it was beautifully decorated with the students’ work which consisted of traditional Bhutanese arrangements hanging from the ceiling. The next class was a painting classroom of mostly males; it was quite large. The students demonstrated incredible skill and talent as they sketched their work. There were also amazing sculptures and paintings of prominent Bhutanese religious figures such as the Buddha of Compassion. The last place we went to within the Institute was the Show Room, where some of the impressive work done by the students were for sale.
The Zorig Chusum truly gave us a glimpse of the uniqueness of Bhutanese culture as depicted through art.