Home / Culture / News and Feature

An art of winter: butter sculpture in Tibet

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2015-12-18 14:18 Comments

An art of winter: butter sculpture in Tibet

A shot of the butter sculpture exhibition held in Gansu province on Mar 6, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

When carving the butter, Gyaltsen and his colleagues often keep a basin of ice cubes nearby to cool down their hands. If the temperature of their hands rises, the butter will melt. So they need to continuously touch the ice to lower the temperature. They must also clean the butter on their hands to not let the different coloured butters mix. Thus they also have a plate of flour to remove the butter on their hands, for water cannot clean the butter.

Nature kindly provides the source of the color for the butter carving. Red is from agate, green from jade, white from pearl, yellow from gold, blue from malachite and black from charcoal. To prevent the color from fading, monk artists blend the liver and bile of cow and sheep with the butter.

The process of butter sculpting is very complex. And every time before starting a carving, the pattern and the content must be approved by the abbot of the Monastery. When a butter sculpture is finished, the natural fragrance of the butter is still perfectly intact. As one of the top three arts of the Monastery, butter sculpture was listed in the first group of national intangible heritage approved by the State Council of China in 2006.

Most Popular