Woodblock craving tradition in Bhutan

In 1973 Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Azhi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck commanded the then Director of National Library of Bhutan, Lam (Lopon) Padma Tshewang, to maintain this tradition. The National Library then started collecting and storing wooden printing blocks and, under patronage of Her Majesty, the Library commissioned the carving of woodblocks for the entire 12 volume collected works of Kunkhyen Pema Karpo (Kun mkhyen bka’ ‘bum) and other works. With easy modern computer technology, the traditional xylographic/wood carving and print heritage is suffering an inexorable decline. The National Library and Archives has been maintaining this tradition through the carving of woodblocks for selected important religious texts and the collection of old woodblocks for preservation so as to keep this tradition unbroken for future. In order to continue to preserve the age-old tradition of woodblock carving skill, both long and short term trainings are provided to those interested to take up carving skill. Presently, two apprentices are undergoing two year training from experienced and skilled artisan.