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The Handicrafts of the Bhutan can be broadly divided into thirteen categories of Arts and Crafts, Zorig Zhusum. Zo means ‘to make’, Rig means ‘Science’ and Chusum means ‘Thirteen’. These skills represent our tradition, rich culture and history that are unique to Bhutan. Hence, it has identified this sector as on that cannot be ignored in its need for support and development. It was codified at the end of 17th Century during the reign of 4th temporal ruler, Tenzin Rabgye (1680-1694).


The following list provides a brief overview of the Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts characteristics:

1.     Yig Zo (Calligraphy)

  1. Len’tsa – Script of Gods
  2. Var’tu – Script of Nagas
  3. U’med – Tibetan Script
  4. U’chen – Common Buddhist script
  5. Gyog’Yig – Dzongkha script

2.    Lha Zo (Painting)


  1. Mural Painting – Debri
  2. Scroll Painting – Thanka
  3. Designs – Decoration
  4. House Painting – Shing’tshon

  3. Jim Zo (Sculpture)


  1. Statues and models
  2. Masks of oracle or deity faces and animals
  3. Concrete crafts and models
  4.  Ceramic skills

  4. Loog Zo (Bronze Casting)

  1. Sand casting technique
  2. Wax casting technique

  5.  Troe Zo (Gold and Silver Smith)

Troe Zo

  1. Gold crafts with shapes and designs
  2. Silver crafts with shapes and designs
  3. Copper/Brass crafts with shapes and designs
  4.  Engraving on metal sheets
  5. Hammering skills


 6. Shing Zo (Carpentry)

shing zo

  1. House construction- Designs, joineries, pillars, proportions & fabrications.
  2. Furniture – Including Altar, boxes
  3.  Paper work – Handmade paper from Daphne barks.

  7. Patra & Shagzo (Wood Carving & Turning)


  1. Wood carving of masks, decorations, symbols & printing blocks
  2. Wood turning/lathing of bowls and cups
  3. Lacquering and shining
  4. Local seasoning skills


 8. Tshem Zo (Tailoring & Embroidery)

Tshem Zo

  1. Embroidery and Applique
  2. Knitting Skills
  3. Gho, Kira and Tego
  4. Religion cultural decoration items
  5. General Tailoring
  6. Leather Crafts
  7. Traditional Boots


 9. Tshar Zo (Cane and Bamboo Crafts)

Tsha Zo

  1. Boe’lo – Hat
  2. Bangchung – used as rice bowl 
  3. Pa’lang – Liquor/Ara container 
  4. Different types of baskets Jewelry box
  5. Cases and containers 
  6. Quiver Roofing mats and other mats

10. Thad Zo (Textile Weaving)


  1. Hacking technique – Plain and intricate textile (Pang thag)
  2. Paddle technique – Plain and decorative rolls (Thrue thag)

11. Za Zo (Pottery)

  1. Rammed mud brick
  2. Pottery – Ceramic
  3.  Rammed mud wall
  4. Plastering skills (Byi-zo)

12.  Chako Zo (Black Smith)

Chak Zo

  1. Framing tools, daggers and knives 
  2. Iron casting Traditional Sword
  3. Making Carpentry tools and various craft works

13.Do Zo (Masonry)


  1. Masonry for house construction
  2. Slate carving  
  3. Stone carving and modeling
  4. Construction of walls and bridges
  5. Construction of Stupas (Choeten)