Sunday, September 06, 2009

Art among Sikkim Monks

GANGTOK - An art school is preserving the oldest form of traditional and religious art of statue making, influenced by Buddhist teaching in Sikkim.

The Traditional Arts School for Thangka Painting at 5th mile, a half an hour drive from state capital Gangtok, is under the supervision of Ecclesiastical Affairs Department, Government of Sikkim. The school is exclusively for the monks (boys).
Monks from different monasteries located throughout the state come to the institute and learn the art free of cost.

The school was started as a separate branch of Enchey School, which was a monk school then in 1909 for teaching the art of statue making to monks at the time of Chogyal (King).

However during 1950s, the school came under the Ecclesiastic Affairs Department.

Ndar Lama, an instructor at the Vocational Arts School, Gangtok, revealed that the art of making the statues came from Bhutan.However, to popularise the art among local monks, the state government felt the need to set up one institute in Sikkim, Lama said.

“The art of making this mud statue came from Bhutan. Earlier, Chogyal (King) used to call the instructors from Bhutan and they used to make the statues. In fact, most of the statue in big monasteries here was made by the Bhutanese. Even I learnt the art from one Bhutanese person. But now the government of Sikkim felt the need to open one such vocational training institute even in Sikkim,” Lama added.

Students at the school said that they hope to teach the art to the future generation so as to keep the Buddhist culture alive.After learning the art of statue making, I will go to the monastery and teach the art to our future generation so as to keep our Buddhist culture and art of statue making alive,” said Dawa, a student.

Besides teaching the art, the school also helps the monks in becoming self-reliant.