Thriving sculpture business preserves age-old traditions – Punakha

As religious activities and centres continue to thrive in the country, the demand for statues and sculpting products is on the rise. One such successful sculpture business is owned by a 40-year-old man in Punakha. Today, his business is thriving and he often finds it challenging to meet the overwhelming demand for statues. His business is not only helping preserve the age-old sculpting traditions in the country but also meeting the rising demand for statues and religious artefacts.

Namgay Wangdi, a father of three from Punakha has been sculpting for nearly two decades. He learned the art at the age of 16 from his masters.

By the time he turned 24, he ventured into his profession independently and has since sculpted a wide range of statues.

The success of his business has also created job opportunities for around 15 workers. Thanks to its exceptional reputation, his sculpture business has been entrusted with sculpting projects for almost all temples in Samtse and several other districts.

His firm carries out both governmental and privately ordered works. But the overwhelming demand sometimes causes delays of two to three months in delivering the statues.

“We are facing difficulties in meeting the increasing demand for the sculptures. We often face delays of two to three months, especially when multiple work orders come in simultaneously. Nevertheless, we are putting in our best efforts to fulfil the customers’ demands. Sometimes, delays occur because we are committed to perfecting the craft. However, we find it challenging to meet customer demands when we receive a large number of work orders at once.”

He pays his workers a decent salary of up to Nu 30,000 per month. Moreover, some former workers have even set up their own sculpting business today.

“After paying the monthly wages for my workers, I manage to save around Nu 300,000 in a year.”

His firm uses clay soil sourced from Gedu in Chhukha for their sculptures. Namgay believes that clay soil is precious as it is the main source of gold, silver and yellow copper.

“We use only clay soil to sculpt statues as we believe that the soil is precious as it contains the main source of gold, silver and yellow copper. Additionally, we incorporate sacred blessing items obtained from religious centres and religious masters into the clay soil for making the statues even more sacred.”

Likewise, their commitment to traditional sculpting culture is evident in the use of locally available holy water and precious mud pills in their work. Not only do they create new statues, but they also undertake repairs of old and damaged ones as per demand.

Maintaining a clean and neat working environment is essential to Namgay and his employees as they recognise that the statues they create become sacred relics in religious centres where devotees pay homage and offer prayers.

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