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Sacred craft dwindles

By Source:China Daily 2015-09-24


Losang Choedron, 31, from Tibet's eastern Qamdo prefecture, makes and sells tsa-tsa in her workshop next to Tibet's Nechung Monastery. [Photo/China Daily]

For most people, Tibetan Buddhism calls to mind images of grand temples and exquisite prayer wheels. Few are familiar with the tsa-tsa, a miniature figure in the otherwise vast world of Buddhism.

Tsa-tsa figures are votive clay images that are deposited as offerings within stupas, holy caves and monastery altars in the Himalayas and other sacred places. Impressions in the clay are made with a metal reverse-image engraving of a hallowed deity or sacred symbol. The stamped images are dried in the sun and in some cases fired into the hardness of pottery.

Tibetans buy tsa-tsas especially during festivals such as Tibetan New Year, the Yogurt Festival and the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar.

Losang Choedron, 31, a native of Tibet's eastern Qamdo prefecture, has been working as a tsa-tsa maker for four years.

"The purpose of creating and offering tsa-tsas is to pray for the happiness of all living beings and peace in the world," Losang explained.

Along with Losang, 12 other tsa-tsa makers work in a studio next to Tibet's Nechung Monastery. They are mostly from Kham areas, such as Qamdo, Sichuan's Dege prefecture and Qinghai's Yushu prefecture.

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