Not for art’s sake

It is not the passion for traditional art that attracts students to Trashi Yangtse Zorig Chusum Pekhang.
Since its inception in 1997 with 21 students and four instructors, the institute has gotten students for reasons entirely different from what it intends. The intent was to imbibe passion for the preservation of traditional art among the students.
But, of the 185 students the institute now has, many said they took up admission in the institute to lower the financial burden of their families.
“I opted to study zorig so that my parents do not have to spend huge money on my education. I can also be independent,” said a student of Trashi Yangtse Zorig Chusum Pekhang.
The institute’s Vice-Principal, Karma Wangdi also said their institute’s aspiration is to preserve Bhutan’s age-old traditional art and crafts. He said it is also to make the students independent.
“No matter how educated our youth are it is difficult for them to get employment. Such craft can make them independent.”
The institute offers 10 courses ranging from painting, sculpting to embroidery. The courses duration vary from one to six years.
On the other side of the fence, a one-man army battles on to create space for contemporary art in Trashi Yangtse. The founder of VAST-Yangtse, Jigme Dorji is tying to break prescribed notion of art and plant a seed of free expression among youth.
Jigme Dorji, 30, is a teacher by the week and a curator, of sorts, by the weekend. He has a small art studio in the heart of Trashi Yangste town. He said the biggest challenge is to help youth discover their freedom to express.
“Art, I believe is the medium of change, medium of hope. People need art. My friend Olaf Van cleef said I could draw a pink elephant on the top of Mount Everest. It is an expression right? That is the beauty of art.”
Ever since he began the studio in 2012, Jigme Dorji has sacrificed a lot a his time guiding youngsters break boundary and immerse in imagination to translate that on canvas.
“ I have had my wife complain several times. Are you mad? Because I never stay free on Saturday and Sunday. Being a teacher is a hectic job but we are shaping the future of art leaders.
From 20 students in 2012, members of VAST-Yangtse have grown to 60 now. Jigme Dorji hopes one-day, people from all over the world would be able to look at paintings and say that is from Trashi Yangtse.

Branding Yangtse

Tshering Zam, Tashi Yangtse
To brand Trashi Yangtse beyond its two known features: Chorten Kora and Black-Necked Cranes, the district has adopted nine more features, making it the first ever district to do so, in the country.
The district now has its own song called Pel La Ya Mo So. It has its own vegetable known as Trashi Yangste Green Chilly, and Daphne as its flower.
It has also adopted Dapa or wooden bowl, made from the burls of maple tree, as its craft.
Other dzongkhag identities include Rhododendron as its tree and capped Langur, as its animal. They have also adopted locally-produced drink, Nakpa and Datshe paa.
Officials said the symbols were adopted to promote tourism in the dzongkhag and also to preserve its local tradition and culture.

“We have lot of potential for development of tourism and Trashi Yangtse should play a vital role in promoting tourism in eastern Bhutan,” said Trashi Yangtse’s Planning Officer, Lam Dorji.
Last year, Trashi Yangtse received over 900 tourists.
The symbols have been printed in pamphlets and distributed to various tour operators. Sign boards for the same have also been prepared.
Trashi Yangtse is one of the newest dzongkhags in the country. It was formed in 1992.