The history of Bhutan | Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel | The cultural heritage | The 13 traditional crafts | Wood- and slate carving

Parzo: Carving of wood and slate

Carving is evident in many forms: There are dancing masks from wood, carved ornamental elements on houses, palaces, dzongs and temples; wooden symbols adorn shrines and the corners of houses; swords and knives are kept in wooden sheaths or scabbards, and knives mostly have wooden handles. Furthermore, furniture, such as tables, beds, thrones and altars, are objects for the carver to beautify.

 

 

Slate is more difficult work with than wood. The details for the sizes and dimensions of sacred inscription and representations of deities carved in slate are prescribed in the scriptues and must be adhered to rigorously.

 

   

Slate-carving, like most arts in Bhutan, is a religious activity that generates merit.

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Construction elements in temples are especially richly carved with Buddhist motives and symbols.
Photo by Jon Warren


Slate, gold colour; 20th century; size: 36 cm x 31cm; loan from Anthony Aris
Namtöse, the guardian of the North, holds a banner and a mongoose spitting jewels.
The mythological »Guardians of the Four Quarters« protect the entrances to monasteries and temples and deter evil influences from all four directions.


Slate with gold colour; 20th century; size: 39 cm x 31 cm; loan from Anthony Aris
Chenmisang, Guardian of the West, holds a chörten in his right hand.
The mythological »Guardians of the Four Quarters« protect the entrances to monasteries and temples and deter evil influences from all four directions.


Slate with gold colour; 20th century; size: 36 cm x 30 cm; loan from Anthony Aris
Phakyepo, guardian of the South, holds a sword in his right hand.
The mythological »Guardians of the Four Quarters« protect the entrances to monasteries and temples and deter evil influences from all four directions.


Slate with gold colour; 20th century; size: 36 cm x 31cm; loan from Anthony Aris
Yulkhorsung, Guardian of the East, plays the lute.
The mythological »Guardians of the Four Quarters« protect the entrances to monasteries and temples and deter evil influences from all four directions.


Table, wood; size: 34 cm x 71 cm x 35,5 cm; loan from Ugyen und Norzom Namgyel
Artfully carved, foldable tables are decorated with propitious symbols. Central motives are the dragon and the flying phoenix.