Traditional Buddhist Thanka (scroll) artist from Sikkim wins national award.
His years of contribution to traditional Buddhist art have won him the most coveted award in the country, and not just one but twice with this. Yeshey Zangpo Bhutia, a Thanka artist from Sikkim, won the national award for his invaluable contribution to the art of thankha painting.
He was felicitated by the Union textile minister Dayanidhi Maran in a function held on 24th Nov, 2010 organised by the Ministry of Textiles.
Yeshey Zangpo Bhutia won this National award in 2008 beating all other participants from India. He went through the stringent procedure of selection and crossed various levels of screening. This award also comes as respite for the dying art in Sikkim.
Yeshey started Thanka painting when he was just five years old. He took lessons form a master, Khandu Wangchuk who himself won the national award in the year 1980 and widely known as the Thanka artist in the country. “From my childhood I was fond of these paintings. I used to get very impressed by the way my masters carved out their thoughts and imaginations through Thanka paintings,” says Yeshey.
Thanka painting is an art in which painting, using natural colors, depict on cotton duct or Silk cloth. The painting illustrates various Buddhist deities, their forms, various historical events in the life of the Lamas and narrating mythological stories. These paintings are also used as devotional images as the centerpiece in a ritual and prayers are offered to them.
This art is a bit difficult to learn compared to other paintings. Thanka artist needs a lot of concentration and patience and should feel what is painting. A very minute detailing goes into it.
The craft is made with all natural colors. Sometimes stone color and 24 carat gold is also being used.
The National award has boosted Yeshey’s confidence. “The National award is very important for me. I am very much encouraged by this honour form the government. This was not possible without the help of the government both at the state and the national level.”
The new generation from Sikkim are not excited about this art feels Yeshey. “I would like to train the young people from Sikkim and other parts of Himalaya. I want to create interest for this art among the young generation. Very soon I will start my coaching classes in Sikkim,” he says.
Yeshey is a known figure in other parts of the Himalayan region too. He has been taking coaching classes in Nepal and Ladhak. He taught students from Bhutan and Bangladesh too.
“One can easily earn a livelihood from this craft as there is a huge demand for these paintings in the west. But one should not become Thanka artist to earn money. It is way to preserve our culture and heritage and we all Thankas artists are committed to it,” asserts Yeshey Zangpo Bhutia.
Yeshey’s future plans are quite big and he wants to make Thanka painting famous all across the globe. “I am interested in organizing an international exhibition and will surely exhibit it in Surajkund Mela in Delhi which will be held in February next year. Our state government has assured me to extend all their support”.
He says to keep the tradition going, youth should have interest in this traditional art, which is necessary to preserve our culture and heritage. “Youth should understand its importance and learn it so that they can pass it on to their next generation.”
Member of Parliament with his wife was also present in the award ceremony. Yeshey was accompanied by his elder sister Shering.