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Protection and development of Tibetan tsatsa art culture

  • Source : VTIBET.com Author : Tenzin Chodron & Tenzin Woebom Time : 04/13/2017 Editor : Tenzin Woebom

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    Photo shows various kinds of exquisite tsatsas displayed at Tibetan Tsatsa Cultural Exhibition Hall in Dokte town of Lhasa, capital of Tibet. [Photo/VTIBET.com]


    Tsatsa: epitome of traditional Tibetan art culture


    Tsatsa, a kind of small molded Buddhist art work, originates in ancient India and later has been introduced and flourished in Tibetan Buddhist region for centuries. With its unique religious art form, the extraordinary tsatsa sculpture has developed rapidly in Tibet during the process of the spread of Buddhism.


    Traditionally in Tibet, tsatsas were made with clay from the earth, left to harden, and placed on altars, shrines or in other holy places. These days, more modern and durable materials are used, such as plaster, hydrostone, or architectural-grade gypsum and other materials.


    Though small, tsatsa serves the same purposes as other Buddhist forms, such as the mural painting and thangka. Buddhists recognize tsatsas as symbols of Buddhist merits, and use them to express their deep reverence for the Buddha, as well as their explanation of Buddhist doctrines.



    Photo shows various kinds of exquisite tsatsas displayed at Tibetan Tsatsa Cultural Exhibition Hall in Dokte town of Lhasa, capital of Tibet. [Photo/VTIBET.com]


    Thanks to the increasing awareness of protection of the traditional tsatsa art work, more than 19 thousands tsatsas with different ages, patterns and styles as well as colors were collected and displayed at Tibetan Tsatsa Cultural Exhibition Hall in Dokte town of Lhasa, capital of Tibet.  


    "We collect these tsatsas from various regions of Tibet. Some of the oldest tsatsas even have more than thousands years of history. They are very rare and precious." introduced Nyima Gyelbo, a collector of the exhibition hall, adding, "tsatsas are generally made of clay and used as offerings at shrines. Like many Tibetan sacred objects, they are iconographic forms representing various meditational Buddhas." 


    When talking about the significance of making tsatsa, Nyima pointed out that making tsatsas is a powerful way to purify obstacles and to collect extensive merits. "Casting a tsatsa is just like painting a thangka. During the process of making tsatsa, it purifies the mind and brings total liberation from all sufferings. There are many benefits of making tsatsas. Tibetans believe that people will gain lots of enjoyments, achieve good reputations as well as perfect surroundings and so forth."


    According to Nyima, "casting a perfect tsatsa is not an easy work. Many causes and conditions are involved in creating a perfect and flawless image, let’s say, the air temperature, the quality of molds and materials, the skill of the maker, the type of brush used, and of course, the karma of the person making them."


    Having long history, superb creative technique, mysterious cultural implications as well as unique artistic value, tsatsa is not only known as the epitome of traditional Tibetan art culture but also treated as treasured collectible item, arousing the interests of numerous experts, artists and collectors.



    Photo shows a Shakyamuni Buddha tsatsa. Tsatsa is a typical representative of Tibetan Buddhist arts. [Photo/VTIBET.com]


    Kunde Specialized Cooperative promotes protection of tsatsa culture and helps the poor shake off poverty


    In recent years, central government and regional government have set great store by the protection and development of the traditional tsatsa art work, devoting a great amount of human, financial and material resources to ensure the inheritance, promotion and development of the fine traditional culture of Tibet.



    A worker makes a clay sculpture carefully at Kunde Farmers’ Specialized Cooperative. [Photo/VTIBET.com]


    Thanks to governments' support, Kunde Farmers’ Specialized Cooperative for producing traditional Tibetan handicrafts including tsatsas was founded in 2015. The cooperative plays a vigorous role in not only promoting the protection of Tibetan handicraft culture as well as its development but also helping the poor master skills and shake off poverty.


    "We have actively cooperated with the government for bringing about protection and promotion of fine traditional Tibetan culture and fighting poverty with great enthusiasm and a highly responsible attitude," according to Chondak, the director of the cooperative.


    "In order to protect and develop the special handicraft culture, we have worked with the art school of Tibet

    University. Every summer or winter vacation, students from art school of Tibet University will come here and learn handicraft skills of making clay sculpture, mask and other artworks. At present, we’ve trained more than two hundreds undergraduates. Apart from that, our cooperative has carried out craftsmanship trainings, which help the needy learn some basic skills and get rid of poverty," said Chondak.


    "As a culture disseminator, I have been engaged in making Tibetan handicrafts for more than 10 years. I tell the superb creative technique as well as deep cultural implications of the craftsmanship to my students and show them how to make a perfect and beautiful handicraft. I hope I can help my students savouring unique charm of the traditional Tibetan handicrafts culture." said Chondak with a smile, adding, "At present, we have 15 students making traditional handicrafts and most of them have already mastered eighty or ninety percent of the basic skills."


    "I am so glad and honored to get a chance to learn some skills here," said Drudrak, a 19-year-old boy from Meltrokungar county of Lhasa, "our teacher Chondak is keen to protect and develop handicraft culture. He often tells us how precious our traditional culture is. I know as long as I learn skills carefully here, I can produce wonderful artworks. And my life will also become better and better."



    A worker makes a clay sculpture at Kunde Farmers’ Specialized Cooperative. [Photo/VTIBET.com]

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