The Traditional Art of Shagzo

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The art of Shagzo, or wood turning, is a skill passed down from one generation to another in Bhutan. The master artisans in this field are known as Shagzopa. The Shagzopas make a myriad of products, which are as exquisite as they are functional. Some of them include wooden bowls (dapa), cups (dza phob), plates, and containers.

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The selection of the wood is as essential as the art itself. Some common woods used for this purpose are, tashing (Juglans regia), hashing (Taxus baccata), baashing (Picea spinulosa), sermaling shing (Acer camphellii) and etometo (Rhododendron arboretum). The skilled maker chooses the abnormal outgrowth or special part of wood called Dza to make these wooden articles. It is believed that these Dza emit rays of light in the night or special rays in the day as well.Making these wooden articles takes a very long time and involves a painstaking process of strengthening, boiling, treating the wood, carving, etc.

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The wooden bowl (dapa) is especially common in Bhutan, much as it is used as souvenir nowadays, people still use it to serve food and drinks in their homes.

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