Dolpo Artist Cooperative

Tibetan style painting from Dolpo

The Tibetan cultural world includes rich, profoundly beautiful artistic traditions. Throughout the Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau, generations of painters have captured the rich religious images of Tibetan Buddhism in scroll paintings (thangka), statues, and murals. These works are not only aesthetically unique, but are also an integral aspect of Tibetan spiritual life. Historically, monasteries and patrons supported thangka painters. In cities such as Kathmandu and Dharamsala, Tibetan artistic works are commercially viable and an important aspect of Tibetan culture today. However, for a host of social, economic, and political reasons, adept teachers and artists struggle to survive in the remote mountain communities where these traditions were once refined and practiced.

Yet some exceptional local entrepreneurs are working hard to ensure that local art forms are perpetuated. Lama Tenzin Norbu of Dolpo, Nepal, is helping to create a cultural and economic renaissance through his paintings. Norbu hails from a lineage of painters dating back four hundred years, and was trained by his father in the refined art of traditional thangka painting. In addition to his classical talent, Norbu is infusing the thangka genre with vivid images of pastoral landscapes and lifeways - a compelling synergy of tradition and innovation. Norbu's work has appeared in National Geographic magazine, Caravans of the Himalaya, the Academy Award-nominated feature film, "Himalaya," and a children's book. Additionally, he recently showed his work in an exhibition in Paris, France, and taught a master's class at the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in 2001.

Norbu is now training a cohort of apprentices from Nepal's most remote regions - places where few economic opportunities exist. Once trained, these apprentices will return to their mountain communities to practice their skill by renovating and restoring monasteries and other cultural treasures, as well as producing paintings for sale. With your assistance, DROKPA can help Norbu expand his apprenticeship program, market artwork for regional and international sale, and eventually create and art institute based in Dolpo and Kathmandu.


You can personally support the Dolpo Artist Cooperative - and own a beautiful piece of art by commissioning work from Tenzin Norbu Lama and his apprentices. Below is a sample.

Painting by Tenzin Norbu Lama

Leather Bags

The Dolpo Artists' Cooperative produces hand-stitched leather bags stylistically derived from Tibetan saddlebags. Below is a sample of the many kinds of bags the Dolpo Coop members have produced.

Handmade Leather Bags

If you would like to commission a painting or order your own leather bags please, please send an E-Mail