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Sikkim youth learn traditional art of carving and painting
by Tashi Pradhan

     Gangtok: An institute in Sikkim has taken the initiative to train the youngsters in carving wood. The institute, Directorate of Handloom and Handicraft, located near the main market of Gangtok, is imparting training in the traditional art of carving and painting to the youth. Woodcraft of various designs and patterns such as the eight lucky signs, dragons and birds of Sikkim, which are embodiment of teaching of Buddha is taught to the students. Designs are first drawn by the students who start carving on the wood and later paint it. Woodcarving is a 3-year course given to the students with comprehensive training in the art of mask carving, including other woodcrafts of traditional designs such as the eight lucky signs and dragons. In thangka painting, students are taught from the very basics. Apart from learning the vital art of sketching, they learn making graphic lining and colour combination. "We conduct a test of a group of boys and girls. After the test, we decide and categorize them according to their capabilities. Students who have the best knowledge and catch up designs quickly, we absorb them in the thangka painting. Students who are little weak are absorbed in wood carving and very weak students are sent in bamboo carving," said Karma Thinlay Lepcha, an instructor. The whole process of carving and painting requires a lot of concentration and patience, as colours have to be matched according to traditional styles and designs of Buddhism. "The painting that we make are of mythological Dragon and Sikkimese birds, which are Buddhist symbols used at every monastery and slowly I am realizing that the work I am doing is an important one as it promotes our tradition and culture," said Bhaichung Bhutia, a student. Typical designs like dragons, birds and phoenix are a common feature in Buddhist wood artifacts. Many Buddhist monasteries and buildings in Sikkim are decorated with symbols and icons, carved on the exquisite woods.
-May 2, 2009

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