Traditional thangka schools create healthy jobs for women

  • Gainful employment
- Anup Ojha, Bhaktapur
Traditional thangka schools create healthy jobs for women

Nov 6, 2014-

Fourteen women were fiddling with their paint brushes, carefully drawing lines on canvases to make thangka, a traditional art form that depicts a Buddhist deity, scene or mandala, at a thangka workshop operated by the Genuine Thangka Painting School in Pottery Square, Bhaktapur.

According to the school, around 300 painters work there part time, colouring, shading, outlining and sketching paintings, and over 90 percent of them are women. “We have very few male workers here. Our priority is for women because we want to empower them through this job opportunity,” Rasmila Khaitu of the school said.

Local thangka businessmen said around 1,000 women are employed at various thangka schools in Bhaktapur. They said women are getting job opportunities and becoming more independent as the thangka business is thriving with the increasing number of Chinese tourists visiting the area.“This is a healthy job in comparison to work at the garment factories, industries and local farms. I don’t have to depend upon my husband,” said Tara Tamang. The 28-year-old now earns Rs 8,000 per month at the school. She said those who have better skills earn up to Rs 15,000 a month.

She said she sends her two children to a private boarding school. “In the morning, I prepare meal, dress up my kids, take them to school and then come here for work,” she said, adding that she has been making a little money to contribute to her husband’s income by utilising her spare time. Most of the Thangka painters are from Ramechhap, Dolakha and Okhaldhunga districts, and mostly from the Tamang and Sherpa communities, who are traditionally Buddhist. “But these days, women from other communities have shown equal interest in this job,” said Sushil Karmacharya, who owns Lama Thangka Painting School in the Bhaktapur Durbar Square area. The school has 60 workers in its two workshops and most of the workers are women.

Of late, many college students opt for this profession as a source of their pocket money. Kanchan Shilpakar, an eleventh grader management student at local Padma Higher Secondary School said the job helped her manage her pocket money. She earns Rs 4,000 a month. “It has also fulfilled my childhood dream to paint,” she said, adding that working at the thangka school is far better than staying at home watching TV.

Published: 07-11-2014 09:17

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