Yale Himalaya Initiative

environment | livelihood | culture

Khyenle: the Bronzework Tradition of Tibet

Event time: 
Tuesday, September 6, 2016 - 5:30pm
Location: 
Room 203, LUCE Hall See map
Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven
Event description: 

At a time when most sculptures of Tibetan deities are mass-produced, and machine-made by unknown workers living far from Tibet, master craftsmen Nima and Dawa Dakpa are working to preserve KHYENLE, the bronzework techniques traditionally used to create sacred objects in Tibet. Based in Dzongsar, in the Tibetan region of Kham in Sichuan Province, this father and son team design and craft bronze statues that embody Buddhist principles, and are made to last for centuries.

As the sixth generation in a family of khyenle craftsmen, Master Bronze Artist, Nima is the current bearer of the khyenle tradition. Having learned bronze-smithing and sculpture since his early childhood, Nima has taught the tradition to more than 30 artisans over the past 15 years. His son Dawa Dakpa is one of the few Tibetans of the younger generation who is carrying on the heritage. After middle school, Dawa started learning the craft from his father. He is a strong creative force in his father’s workshop, pushing the artisans to fully explore the potential of the tradition.

Dawa Drolma is a young Tibetan photographer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. Passionate about documenting Tibetan culture and traditions, her documentary films and photography have won several international awards. She also happens to be the daughter and sister of Nima and Dawa. Currently, she is a student in the United States.

Dawa Drolma, will join the two Smithsonian Tibetan Artists in Residence in sharing their work, as describe their craft process, and discuss the economic and social challenges they face in earning and sustaining a craft-based livelihood. They will also discuss the efforts and inputs that could allow their craft tradition and artistry to survive and thrive.