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  • Artist Talk: Masters of Tibetan Bronze Work

    September 10, 2016, 2–4 p.m.
    Freer | Sackler Galleries
    1050 Independence Ave. SW
    Washington, D.C. 

    Tibetan Buddhism and related Tibetan craft have recently undergone a worldwide renaissance. However, even as the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism are flourishing, the production of objects associated with its practice has shifted to non-Tibetan areas. Smithsonian Tibetan Artists in Residence Nima and Dawa Dakpa are working to preserve the traditional bronze work techniques—known as khyenle—used to create sacred objects in Dzongsar, in the Tibetan region of Kham, Sichuan Province, and share them with a new generation. Together, this father and son team design and produce bronze statues made to last centuries that embody Buddhist imagery and principles.

    In this talk, Nima’s daughter, filmmaker Dawa Drolma, will join the artists to discuss their work and share insights to sculptures from the Himalayan region currently on view in the Sackler Gallery. The talk will be followed by a reception.

    RSVP online.


    Nima | Khyenle Master

    Nima has been bronze smithing and sculpting since his early childhood. He is the most talented and well-known sculptor in Dzongsar. He is the father of two and a master teacher of more than 30 students over the past 15 years. When it comes to his craft he is a perfectionist; he emphasizes to his students that craft traditions are a lifelong learning experience you can only improve over time. As the sixth generation of khyenle craftsmen in his family, Nima said, “Khyenle is all about its quality, not the quantity.”

    Dawa Dakpa

    Dawa Dakpa | Khyenle Designer

    Dawa Dakpa is one of the younger generation learning and practicing Tibetan traditional craft. After middle school he decided to carry on khyenle and started learning the craft from his father, Nima. Although a talented artist, Dakpa is also well known for his skills with technology and machines. All the villagers bring him their broken phones, TVs, and cookers to repair. When it comes to Khyenle he is one of most creative on the team, full of new ideas. “Khyenle is beyond traditional bronze arts,” he said. “It’s a way of cultural survival in the modern world by empowering local Tibetan artisans in an innovative way.”

    Dawa Drolma

    Dawa Drolma | Photographer, Filmmaker, Entrepreneur

    Dawa Drolma is a Tibetan photographer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. She is passionate about Tibetan culture and traditions, and published her first book on Tibetan folk songs in 2012 in English. Her documentary films and photography about Tibetan culture have won several international awards. Drolma is also trilingual in Tibetan, Chinese, and English. Currently she is double majoring in marketing and small business management at Bay Path University.

    This event is co-produced by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Freer | Sackler, Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, and Khyenle.

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