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Pusum carving, legend on the plank

Publish Time: 2017-10-24 Author: From: Kangba TV

Pusum Township, Nyemo County, Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is renowned for block carving.

Pusum carving, Tibetan incense and Tibetan paper are known as the three unique things of Nyemo.

Block carving of scriptures has been inherited by people for generations. It enjoys a long history which dates back to the seventh century.

Originally, literatures were inscribed on wooden slips, stone tablets and pattra leaves.

Later, as the ancient woodblock carving skill was used, scriptures and literatures regarding medicine and mathematical astronomy were printed on woodblock.

Pusum carving has been passed down from generation to generation.

The craftsmen of block carving enriched and developed the skill over the years.

Now, Pusum block carving is one of TAR’s regional-level intangible cultural heritages.

Pusum carving requires complicated procedures.

The carving of ordinary Tibetan Buddhist scripture requires nine procedures, the Buddhist figures 15 or 16 procedures and the complicated ones 20 to 30 procedures.

The carving tool is also particular. Every engraver has a set of carving tools, which include more than 20 kinds.

In the past, carving was mainly a part of religious activity.

Now, the contents of carving has been expanded to all sectors of social life, including religious activity, figures and etiquette, natural scenery, etc.

Woodblock carving products are favored by tourists. Pusum carving has various forms and is widely used in life.

Besides simple carving of characters, it also includes carving of different patterns.

It is used in Buddhist activity, as tourism souvenir, and for printing prayer flags.

Most of the colorful prayer flags hung on the mountains printed with Pusum woodblock.


Beech is used as the main carving material. The new wood should be cut into planks, with a thickness of 3cm.

After being transported to Yangbajain Township, the planks will be soaked in spring for about one hour.

Without such process, the planks are easy to crack. The soaked planks will be dried in the sun and polished.

The papers with contents printed or written on it will be pasted on the planks. When the planks are dried, craftsmen spray water on the paper and scrub it with a wet towel.

When the papers are wiped out, the writing on the planks will manifest.

After one day, when the planks with writings are half-dried under the sun, engravers start carving the characters or patterns.

To keep the moisture of the planks, a wet towel is used to cover the part which is not carved.

When finish carving, engravers use different tools to neaten the planks, thus to make it smooth and beautiful.


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