Bhutanese arts and crafts are very unique and have its roots in the Buddhist religion. Almost all representations in arts are the struggle between good and evil. Bhutanese arts are mostly subjective, symbolic and impersonal. They are also highly decorative and ornamental. The development of Bhutan’s artistic heritage traced to the great 15th century terton (Treasure discover) Pema Lingpa, who was an accomplished painter, sculptor and architect.
The country’s artistic tradition received a further boost under the instructions of Lama Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. Desi Tenzin Rabgye opened the school of Zorig chusum or the thirteen types of Bhutanese arts and crafts in the year 1680. The thirteen arts of Zorig Chusum are:

  • Lhazo (Paintings)
  • Shingzo (Carpenter)
  • Parzo (Carvings)
  • Jinzo (Sculpture)
  • Lungzo (Casting)
  • Garzo (Blacksmith)
  • Tsharzo (Bamboo works)
  • Ngulzo (Gold and Silver Smith)
  • Thagzo (Weaving)
  • Tsenzo (Embroidery)
  • Dozo (Masonry)
  • Kozo (Leather works)
  • Dezo (Paper works)

The traditional Bhutanese arts have two main characteristics: It is religious and anonymous. The traditional arts work is to make a work of faith and discipline. They are bounded by the very strict iconographic conventions and their first responsibility is to observe them scrupulously. However, the disciples of a master do all the preliminary work, while the fine work is executed by the master himself.