The history of Bhutan | Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel | The cultural heritage | The 13 traditional crafts

The 13 traditional crafts

The 13 traditional crafts are called »zorig chusum« in Bhutan. Zo refers to the ability to make something, rig is the art or craft, and chusum means thirteen.

Traditionally, a master hands on his knowledge within his own family or to a few select apprentices. Today, first attempts are being made to also teach in state institutions. A governmental programme subsidizes the 13 crafts to promote the cultural identity and create work possibilities.

Nowadays, many of the traditional craft products have been replaced by cheap industrial goods from India or China.


The 13 crafts are:

shingzo: woodwork, including the building of dzongs, temples, palaces, houses, tools and other implements.
dozo: stone arts, including stone pots and tools, millstones and, as a special section called (tsigzo) the building of stone walls.
parzo: carving. Wood-, slate- and stone-carving are included.
Ihazo: all types of painting including thangkas, mandalas, shrines, wall-painting and house decoration.
jinzo: clay arts. This includes the making of statues, pottery and rammed-earth construction.
lugzo: casting of statues, ritual tools, musical instruments, working tools, kitchen utensils and jewellery.
shagzo: wood-turning for producing bowls, plates, buckets, ladles and small hand drums.
garzo: blacksmithy; products are swords, knives, axes, ploughs, tools and chains.
tröko: making of metal ornaments; includes all ornaments made of gold, silver or copper, and also elaborately decorated containers.
tshazo: products of cane and bamboo, such as containers, mats, hats, and bows and arrows.
dezo: paper art; originally for religious texts or documents, today mainly for sale to tourists.
tshemzo: sewing and embroidery, including appliqué work and patchwork as well as hat- and boot-making.
thagzo: weaving, including the preparation of the yarn and dyeing.
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