The conservation and preservation of a written language
Working with a small group of eminent calligraphy Masters and Khenpos in the Kingdom of Bhutan, was an absolute honour and pleasure for Tashi – sat among his like minded Khenpos and monks, their shared craft spoke the same language.
Organised by Bhutan Conservation BACCC – this was a joyous yet pivotal occasion. Tashi had visited Bhutan two years earlier to attend a solo exhibition and requested to meet a calligraphy master, as Bhutanese and Tibetan calligraphy are very closely related.
However, when a master of calligraphy could not be found across the Kingdom, the Monastic Body of Bhutan realised that their written language of Dzongkha had been neglected since the 80’s, when teaching calligraphy stopped, with the danger of it being lost altogether.
Eventually a few of their remaining calligraphers were found and winkled out of their monastic retreats and other secular duties, acknowledged once again for their nearly forgotten skills, to gather together and brainstorm how to effectively re-establish their writing systems back into the monastic and school curriculums.
Fortunately, Bhutanese are proud of their cultural legacy and are very resourceful in maintaining it. The practice of calligraphy has since been re-introduced across the Kingdom with new calligraphers in training and writing manuals compiled, published and distributed.
This scenario is not unique to Bhutan. As more of humanity turns to the technical age of communication, languages and calligraphy traditions are widely threatened. It is important to be aware that traditions, such as unique writing systems, which may have developed over hundreds of years, can be easily neglected and lost in just one generation.