English | Dzongkha Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A woman’s journey through painting

Phub Gyem, Thimphu
Apr 26, 2017

The traditional art of painting commonly known to Bhutanese as Lhadip, is believed to have been passed down through generations as a male dominant art form. Very less women take up the art.

But it is a different story for 30-year-old, Lham Tshering. Unlike others, she did not inherit the art from her family but picked up this art as a career after she dropped school.

The magnificent piece of Ngondro Tshogzhi, as she calls it, is one of her works of art. The sacred images are made to exact specifications that have remained remarkably unchanged for centuries. She says it is a lot of pride being one of a rare traditional women painter.

“Since we do not have many women painter in the country, I take great pride in being one. Moreover, we paint in lhakhangs and chorten and people have great regard and respect for such art. Our works are also going to be remembered by many generations. So it’s a lot of pride”.

It was never her plan to become a painter. But circumstances made her work at conservation of painting at a local Lhakhang in Bumthang. There she met teachers from the National Institute of Zorig Chusum, who insisted she join the institute.

Lham Tshering has a diploma in traditional painting from the National Institute of Zorig Chusum.

“If we are determined then it is not very challenging. But it is tough when we have to climb heights for outdoor paintings. Even drawing becomes a little difficult at times. It’s even more challenging when you are a mother. Otherwise, it’s a good job if it is all about sitting and painting”.

Married to a painter, Lham Tshering gets help from her husband when she has bigger projects to work on.

“Women can do it. But it is little difficult at times. So I help her out sometimes. Since she also graduated from Kawangjangsa, she is well equipped and does not face much difficulty,” shared Lham’s husband, Wangchuk Namgay.

For a piece of painting like Ngondro Tshogzhi, she earns two hundred thousand ngultrum.

She also plans to give classes to aspiring young painters.

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