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From: China Tibet Online 2012-06-20 16:29:00
by: Melinda
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Tibetan paper from vanishing to flourishing

Photo shows a handicraft product made of Tibetan paper. It depicts the scene of Buddhist scripture debating, an educational activity of Tibetan Buddhism. [Photo/Chinanews.com]
Photo shows a handicraft product made of Tibetan paper. It depicts the scene of Buddhist scripture debating, an educational activity of Tibetan Buddhism. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

Tibetan paper has received greater attention, attracting more handicraftsmen, and increased its sales volume in recent years, said Tsering Dorje, a national-level inheritor of Tibetan paper.

Tsering Dorje was born in Nyemo County of Lhasa, home to Tibetan incense and Tibetan paper, which was inscribed into the National Intangible Cultural Heritage list early in 2006.

As a unique cultural product, the Tibetan paper can be kept for thousands of years and is the top choice for Buddhist scripture printing in Tibetan monasteries such as the Potala Palace and the Jokhang Temple.

The 62-year-old Tsering Dorje has devoted to Tibetan paper making for 50 years, whose product is listed as one of the three best traditional Tibetan paper types.

"The distinctive feature of Tibetan paper lies in the material, the root of a poisonous herb Chinese plant stellera, which has the best tenacity compared with other substitutable plants including radix angelicae", Tsering Dorje introduced, sitting cross-legged besides a big flagstone.

"A total of 16 households in my county went in for Tibetan paper making in the past, but only my family keeps on producing now", said Tsering Dorje, "Most of them quitted for shortage of raw material and poor sales".

In the 1990s, the State started to rescue the endangered ethnic handicraft and encouraged more people to take part in the rescue work.

An entrepreneur named Champa Tsondre from Lhasa walked into Tsering Dorje's house one day, explaining the significance of Tibetan paper and inviting him to train 8 folk handicraftsmen on Tibetan paper making for the inheritance of the traditional handicraft.

"The searching of folk handicraftsmen is quite difficult, let alone inviting them to other places", said Champa Tsondre, who works in Caiquan Ethnic Handicraft Industry Research Center in downtown Lhasa.

Through exchanges and study, the research center has cultivated over 30 handicraftsmen across Tibet so far.

"Not only local folk handicraftsmen but also professors from Nepal, Germany and Japan took part in the cultural exchanges", said Champa Tsondre.

The techniques of Tibetan paper making were also improved through cultural exchanges.

The research center produced a new type of Tibetan paper, which obtained national patent and was highly acclaimed at home and abroad. The new Tibetan paper is widely used in the packing of tourist products and ornaments of Tibetan restaurants.

Broaden sales make more people know the Tibetan paper, which obtains better space for its survival and inheritance.

"Though foreign countries have similar papers, our Tibetan paper made of poisonous herb still earns good reputation in international community", said Champa Tsondre, "We are very proud and confident to let the ethnic handicraft better inherited."

[editor : ]
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