Author Topic: Bronze sculptures continue to shine  (Read 5579 times)


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Bronze sculptures continue to shine
« on: April 03, 2013, 10:53:38 AM »
This is a gorgeous statue of Lama Tsongkhapa. I just wanted to share this article here because it explains that the statue makers are not commercially motivated but their craft is purely for religious purposes. Also i am happy to see that it is still very much an artist's craft  - with apprentices. Apprenticeship is pretty rare in the West nowadays, with mass production being the norm today.

Bronze sculptures continue to shine
Updated: 2013-04-02 07:50 By Palden Nyima ( China Daily)

The 5.7-meter-high bronze statue of Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism, was created by Migmar Losang, Thubten Tsering and 26 apprentices. Daqiong / China Daily

On a cold day in February, master Tibetan bronze sculptor Migmar Losang and 26 apprentices were busy working on a 5.7-meter-high statue.

"It's of Je Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism," says Migmar Losang, who operates a bronze workshop with his brother Thubten Tsering.

"We will spend 45 days to complete the work ordered by the Olkha Rdzingchi Monastery in Lhokha prefecture."

The workshop is in the remote mountain valley of Palnag in Daktse county about 25 km from Lhasa.

Migmar Losang, 41, and his brother have been running the workshop for more than a decade.

Bronze statues are an important aspect of traditional Tibetan crafts.

The apprentices are from many places in Tibet, aged between 16 and 48.

"Our workshop began operation in 2002. It takes at least 10 years to be a qualified sculptor - some become skilled quicker because they are smart and diligent, but others are slower," Migmar Losang says.

He says that old techniques have been modernized with wood frames replaced by steel, scissors by electric clippers in the design process, and zinc welding with oxygen welding.

"This statue can be finished five days faster than the old way," Migmar Losang says.

Thubten Tsering is also an experienced craftsman. His fondness for photography allows him to be more innovative in his job.

He visited many monasteries in Tibet to take pictures of Buddha statues.

Back home, he uses a computer to modify the pictures into 3D images that can be used in the design.

It is a rare skill among his fellow craftsmen, but he has no intention of keeping it a business secret.

"Building statues is for the benefit of all Buddhists," Thubten Tsering says. "I don't do the job for the sake of business."

Migmar Losang's workshop is viewed by local craftsmen as one of the best in the village because of its good pay and accommodation.

Tenzin Kelzang, who is in his seventh-year of apprenticeship under Migmar Losang, admits that he is "not skilled, so I don't get a high salary."

"But I enjoy my job here. I want to inherit this unique craft," he says.

Thubten Tsering explains that "the most skilled worker earns 6,000 yuan ($965) a month and a new apprentice gets around 1,500 yuan".

"We help the youngsters save money, preventing them from wasting all their salary without handing it to their parents."

He says most orders come from U-Tsang in the central region of Tibet and Kham, which covers the eastern part of the autonomous region and western Sichuan province.

"No contracts are signed for orders as negotiations are done with lamas, who are considered supreme spiritual teachers by Tibetans, so trust plays the key role," Thubten Tsering says.

A recent commission was a 23-meter-high Buddha statue ordered by a lama from a monastery in Lhokha. The work took three years to complete.

Among the 11 bronze workshops in Palnag village, only two are run by locals. The rest moved to the area in the 1960s from Chamdo prefecture in eastern Tibet, an area famous for its bronzes.

Most artisans in Palnag - including Migmar Losang - were students of the old Chamdo masters.

Chimed Sengge, 85, also from Chamdo, is the master craftsman who taught all the bronze smiths in Daktse county.

He has been in the trade for about 60 years. He learned it from his father and became an independent craftsman at the age of 35. He has trained about 40 of the sculptors, with 16 becoming workshop owners.

"I began my apprenticeship at 13. I learned to make statues using bronze, silver and gold," Chimed Sengge says.

"In the old days, we used zinc welding and tools like scissors and hammers. Today people use oxygen welding, advanced tools and even computers - things that make the job easier, more efficient and innovative."

Chimed Sengge retired in 2003 when he was 75 years old. But he still owns his workshop.

He noted the latest efforts of local authorities in protecting the traditions of his craft.

In 2010, his workshop was included in the autonomous region's list of protected intangible cultural heritage.

"It's crucial that this asset can be passed down to the next generations," says Manlha Tsering, the son of Chimed Sengge.
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being


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Re: Bronze sculptures continue to shine
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2013, 12:15:46 PM »
Wow! This bronze statue of Lama Tsongkhapa is so beautiful.  It is rare nowadays to find good craftsmanship of statues.  The local authorities did the right thing to want to preserve this art. 

Thubten Tsering is truly unselfish for not keeping his rare crafting skill a secret.  He and his brother Migmar Losang have such good merits to have this livelihood.  Furthermore he does it with the motivation of wanting to benefit others.  Migmar Losang and Tsering Thubten are kind employers who help the young apprentice save their salaries for their parents.


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Re: Bronze sculptures continue to shine
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2013, 04:56:18 AM »
Beautiful! I am really happy for those who are sculpting Tsongkhapa's statue. Its going to be a true blessing for them and also the people who will come to visit. I heard that there not many good and skilled craftsmen as the younger generation prefer to do other jobs. Its hard to look for good quality statues outside of Nepal and India.

What I admire about Thubten Tsering is that he is not selfish, he does not do it for the sake of money, he takes care of the people who work for him and their family as well. Thank you for sharing this joyous post!


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Re: Bronze sculptures continue to shine
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2013, 05:17:22 AM »
In this time and era, everything seems to be moving in high speed. Fast food, internet, hectic lifestyle; all of these modernization supposed to improve our lifestyle. We even destroyed our heritage site in order to make way to accommodate the increasing population in a country. We are fast becoming a universal product with no identity and uniqueness. Let's just hope there will be more individuals similar to Migmar Losang, and his brother in order to kept certain tradition in doing things using which required traditional method and skills.


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Re: Bronze sculptures continue to shine
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2013, 01:27:57 PM »
As with many religions,a Buddha statue serves as a tangible symbol of the belief system held by Buddhist  culture.The physical feature of the Buddha is symbolic of Buddha's teachings.
By  building the statue so big it creates much good karma.Many people will come see it and will accumulate merit leading them to temporary happiness and ultimate enlightenment.
This is really a beautiful statue of Lama Tsongkapa built by the kindness of Thubten Tsering and his brother Migmar Lobsang,whose efforts will benefit others tremendously.


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Re: Bronze sculptures continue to shine
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 09:57:05 AM »
That's very good news for everyone to rejoice. We can see Lama Tsongkhapa's teachings to be ready to spread far and wide irregardless of how DS is link to Lama Tsongkhapa teachings.  Preserving the traditonal skills of statue making is needed with urgency as most younger generation does not want to take over this skill as it is too labour intensive and low returns in terms of salary..


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Re: Bronze sculptures continue to shine
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2013, 07:37:29 AM »
This is indeed joyous news!This bronze statue of Lama Tsongkhapa is so beautiful and magnificent! In this age and time, it is not easy to find skilled workers as most of the younger generation prefer other jobs. It is rejoicing to know that Migmar Losang, Thubten Tsering and the 26 apprentices are making this beautiful bronze statue and unselfishly willing to preserve the traditional skills and passed down to the younger generation. Their efforts will benefit many tremendously.

Big Uncle

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Re: Bronze sculptures continue to shine
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2013, 10:28:55 AM »
Dear Wisdom Being,

This statue is incredibly beautiful! Although it is not realistic in its rendering of Lama Tsongkhapa but it has a certain warm feeling to it. Tibet has such a glorious tradition of making huge statues of the Buddhas. It is incredible merits especially if the maker made it with a sincere motivation. I am not sure about his motivation but certainly the latest breakthroughs in making statues would ensure better portrayal and perhaps a livelier statue for many to worship. It seems that this is one tradition of all Buddhists, which is to erect huge monumental statues of the Buddhas so the maker, sponsor and those that behold them would be blessed by these sacred images.