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Tibetan woodblock art preserved in remote village

By Palden Nyima in Chamdo | | Updated: 2020-09-24 11:30
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A woodblock artist pursues his craft. [Photo by Palden Nyima/China Daily]

Yesang village is regarded as the birthplace of Tibetan woodblock art, a tradition that has been passed down for more than 340 years.

The village, located in Polo township of Joda county in the Tibet autonomous region, has more than 60 woodblock artists who practice more than eight months every year culture preservation and for a source of income for residents.

The village lies in a remote valley far from the county’s downtown. It takes more than three hours of driving on the mountainous roads to get there, and the journey requires both driving skill and courage. It’s about an hour’s drive from Palyul county of Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province. Yesang residents usually purchase daily necessities in Palyul rather than in Joda.

Yesang is also near Sichuan’s Dege county, a Tibetan place renowned for the Dege Scriptures Printing House, a historical printing house of Tibetan Buddhism scriptures. More than 80 percent of the printing house’s woodblocks were produced in Yesang, according to villagers.

Tashi Tsephel, an instructor and master of the woodblock art in Yesang, said he began to learn the art from his father at age 12, and it took him five years to become an independent practitioner.

“Three-hundred years ago, a great master called Kolha Lugye initiated the tradition of woodblock art in our village, after which the tradition has been passed on for generations. Therefore, our village has contributed greatly to Tibetan cultural preservation,” Tashi Tsephel said.

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