Meet Our Tibetan Artisans in Chengdu, China
Last fall, as part of the five-year Sichuan Market Development Activity (SMD), funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Creative Associates, International, Aid to Artisans conducted its Market Readiness Program™ in Chengdu, China for over 25 participants. The MRP was immediately followed by product development workshops with 13 artisan groups. Since the beginning of the year, these 13 artisan groups have been busy developing their new product collections, which will be exhibited in an ATA marketing Event in Chengdu in June.
Here are ATA’s artisan exhibitors:
Rain Pan and her father LI Pan are decorators/designers that are deeply invested in Tibetan culture. For over 20 years they have managed a Tibetan Art Gallery and the Kuzan Tibetan Hotel. They have developed handmade Tibetan tea products, stone jewelry, slate printing and ceramics. Inspired by the MRP, they are developing Tibetan tea jewelry for the marketing event in June.
Kunchok Sherab, a field director and Lobsang Choegyal, an English teacher, are active members of the Khorwa Artisan Association and consultants at Conscious Business Consulting. They are growing their skills in horn work and leatherwork with the goal of becoming designers. They will exhibit their “Tibetan Design” products at the event including a large collection of Tibetan style leather bags and horn jewelry.
Lhapka Dolma “Lahkdon” is a motivated trainer who supported ATA designer Sophie Sauzeat on the field in the countryside during the first steps in this program. Later, she created Magalam Craft, which specializes in product development. She attended the MRP in Chengdu and plans to develop a baby carrier product line for the ATA Marketing event.
Duoji Dzi Beads
Four years ago, Wangyal Phuntsok suffered a spinal cord injury that put him in a wheelchair. Today, he is a social worker and a leader of an association of 18 people with similar disabilities. Most of them are victims of the 2010 Sichuan earthquake. Wangyal develops vocational trainings on creating simple handmade items. These products, made by disabled people, include beaded jewelry, felted items, woven or leather bracelets. For the exhibition in June, Wangyal will develop bracelets, and accessories such as belts, headbands, and nomad jewelry bags with brocade.
Melah, who began her career at the Door to Tibetan Arts Company is today a trainer and leader of the women in her native village, running a program called “Mothers”. Everything produced at Mothers uses these women’s sewing and knitting skills. Melah is working on a collection based on the principle of Re-born, using left over felt and yak wool. “Mothers” makes Tibetan style toys, knitted jewelry, and cushions. Melah will exhibit recycled toys at the June marketing event.
Blue Sheep Crafts
Blue Sheep Crafts offers a diverse selection of products handmade by people with disabilities from disaster struck areas and poor rural ethnic minority communities, in China. Blue Sheep, initiated by Dr. Rachel Pinniger, seeks to help these disadvantaged communities to maintain a basic standard of living.
Blue Sheep Crafts is preparing a sheep wool selection of products for kids for the upcoming exhibition.
Dancing Yak Handicrafts promotes women artisans who create traditional Tibetan and yak-based natural products such as yak milk soap, yak wool bags, and iPad covers. The organization, founded by Katja Nyima Forrer, trains and helps Tibetan women to produce and sell their amazing products in their Chengdu shop.
For the exhibition, Dancing Yak will showcase yak wool felted cases.
Splendid Tibet is a contemporary brand bringing a large range of modern Tibetan shirts. As a young stylist and manager of Splendid Tibet, Tsewang Namgyal (Dunzhu) works with 4 other Tibetan men and women to empower the Tibetan community and create income opportunities through modern designs.
With his staff, they are producing a shirt collection named: “Dorje is a rebel”
They are successfully selling on “We Chat” to retailers and people on social media.
They will exhibit modern Tibetan shirts at the marketing event.
As Founder of Phayul Tibet, Basang Dundrub works with 4 Tibetan men and 2 Tibetan women in innovate styles in Tibetan clothing. They develop modern Tibetan style clothing including jackets, coats, and dresses.
At the exhibition, Phayul will showcase a modern collection of Tibetan clothing and accessories.
Kangariwo is a Chengdu-based trademark owned, managed and operated by a Tibetan family of 15 members. They have 10 stores in the region and have a showroom in Chengdu. In addition to creating casual traditional products they specialize in the wedding industry from traditional costumes to music and videos.
At the exhibition, they will showcase a collection of modern Tibetan style stripped scarves and coats.
Tibetan Qiang Embroidery
The Tibetan Qiang Embroidery is composed by 200 women who specialize in the delicate art of Qiang embroidery using nothing but needle and thread. Among them, Yong Tso is a designer and university teacher who creates a wide range of products such as bags, purses, cushions and table pads. Yong Tso’s focus is on mixing silver work and embroidery in order to craft beautiful pieces from brooches and necklaces to pocket mirrors.
During the exhibition, she will showcase a Tibetan embroidered jewelry product line, and embroidered accessories as cuffs and headbands.
Working in a deeply rural area Rupchok Nyima is the founder and stylist of Shang Dyok workshop where he trains and leads a team of 5 women and 2 men in refining felt crafts such as hats, bags and purses, and cases. Rupchok’s goal is to increase the income of farming communities by engaging in alternate livelihoods activities.
They will exhibit a very refined accessories line in felt.
Zhenma Cultural Arts
Zhenma Cultural Arts was founded by Khaedup Nyima and Wendy Thangka. They teach their art to over 30 students in a school run by Khaedup Nyima, who is also a monk and has been painting since he was 17. They specialize in the very fine Thangka paintings, which are traditional Tibetan Buddhist paintings on cotton, or silk appliqué, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. They are looking to develop more casual, fashionable products with contemporary designs.
They will exhibit painted fans and embroidered hoops and earrings.