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Art in Bhutan

Art Galleries in Bhutan

VAST Bhutan

The contemporary art scene in Bhutan has flourished thanks to the dedicated efforts of VAST Bhutan (Voluntary Artists Studio Thimphu). Founded by a group of professional artists, VAST aims to nurture Bhutanese youth’s artistic potential and contribute to society through community service. Key features include:

  • Artistic Initiatives: VAST organizes art classes, workshops, exhibitions, conversations, art shows, and camps to engage and develop artistic talents.
  • Paro International Airport: VAST is responsible for the paintings and art installations at Paro International Airport, showcasing Bhutanese art to visitors upon arrival.
  • Art Galleries: VAST operates two art galleries in Thimphu. The Alaya Gallery at the Tarayana Center and the Bhutan Art Gallery at the ground floor of Le Meridien, Thimphu, offer a fusion of Bhutanese traditional and contemporary arts.
  • Meet the Artists: Visitors have the chance to meet the artists behind the captivating pieces displayed in VAST galleries.

Other notable art galleries in Thimphu include Artyanttra and TWINZ artists, contributing to the vibrant artistic landscape.

Royal Textile Academy

Bhutan’s rich tradition and culture are intricately linked with weaving. The Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan, a non-governmental, non-profit organization, plays a pivotal role in preserving and promoting this living art. Highlights of the Royal Textile Academy include:

  • Textile Museum: As the country’s only textile museum, the academy offers a comprehensive understanding of Bhutanese textiles. The upper floor showcases permanent displays, while the lower floor hosts changing exhibitions.
  • Weaving School: The academy functions as a training space for aspiring weavers, teaching ancient weaving methods, yarn dyeing, design, color theory, and business fundamentals.
  • Exhibitions: The museum features transient exhibitions on specialized subjects, with past themes including different weaves, royal collections, Zhabdrung, and more.

Bhutanese Textiles

Bhutanese textiles are renowned for their rich colors, intricate patterns, and elaborate dyeing methods. The Royal Textile Academy provides insights into this art form. Key aspects include:

  • Weaving Tradition: Legend has it that weaving was introduced in Bhutan by the wife of Songsten Gampo. Weaving is passed down through generations, with districts in eastern Bhutan known for their prized weaves like kishuthara.
  • Artistic Variety: Bhutanese textiles come in diverse patterns, colors, and intricate motifs, with a variety of weaving styles such as martha, pangtse, mentha, sertha, and buray.
  • Thagzo – Weaving: Weaving, known as Thagzo, is one of the oldest vocations in Bhutan, deeply embedded in its history and way of life. Women traditionally weave during winters, and textiles were even used as a form of payment.
  • Regional Differences: Textile patterns vary from region to region, and exploring local clothes shops and handicraft stores offers opportunities to acquire unique textile products.
  • Dream Textile – Kishuthara: Many Bhutanese women aspire to own a kishuthara or silk kira, showcasing the cultural significance of these textiles.