Photo shows employee of Xigaze Zanglu Tibetan Handicraft Industry Inheritance Co., Ltd. drawing a piece of Thangka. [China Tibet News/Chen Lin, Zhang Bin]
Losang Tendar, general manager of Xigaze Zanglu Tibetan Handicraft Industry Inheritance Co., Ltd., was born in 1976. At the age of 14, he began to learn from a Thangka painter in Zedong Village of Namling County, Xigaze City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. After only a year's study, his teacher told him, "I am old now. You should go to Tashilhunpo Monastery, where more excellent painters stay." Because he was young and weak at basic drawing, Tashilhunpo Monastery's Thangka master refused to accept him as an apprentice at first.
"I was rejected again and again, but not discouraged. I insisted on taking care of the master and cleaning the house. Till the sixth time, the master was finally moved by me," he recalled. Therefore, he became an apprentice at Tashilhunpo Monastery and followed the master to learn drawing skills of Miantang Thangka.
5 years later, Losang Tendar finished his apprenticeship and began his 10-year career as a professional painter. During this period, he painted murals for temples, decorative paintings of furniture and wall paintings for new houses. Afterward, he became famous for his superb Thangka painting skills, and attracted more and more people to learn from him. "Running a school not only makes a living, but also cultivates more Thangka art inheritors." He planned to set up a vocational train school at that time.
In 2009, Losang Tendar used all his savings to set up a vocational and technical training school and carry out the Tangka art training for farmers and herdsmen. While training students, he constantly improved his skills. In 2012, he was awarded the title of "Tibetan Thangka Painter" by the Department of Culture of Tibet and listed among "Ten Skillful Craftsmen" by Xizage City.
To further promote the Thangka sales brand and drive more poor people to become rich, he set up Xigaze Zanglu Tibetan Handicraft Industry Inheritance Co., Ltd. in 2012, with 50 million yuan RMB. The company had 5 majors including Thangka, woodcarving, sewing, ethnic painting and woodworking, and employed 32 workers. Since its establishment, the company has trained nearly 800 poor young people with skills, which helped them realize their own dreams.
It takes one year for 6 or 7 people to complete a large Thangka, which is relatively expensive. Thus, Losang Tendar and his employees have developed mini Thangka ornaments, Thangka hanging decorations and Thangka jewelry to meet the needs of the tourism market. In recent years, the company's business grows rapidly; he gets more opportunities for business exchanges and comes up with the idea of building a "Thangka Theme Hotel" after seeing some "theme hotels" and "time restaurants" in Lhasa and other cities of China. Thus, he builds the "Thangka Theme Hotel" with his savings from those years' Thangka painting.
At present, the main body of "Thangka Theme Hotel" is completed, and the final interior decoration is being carried out. On the 4th floor of the hotel, all kinds of Thangka are hung on the walls of corridor and guest rooms, including some age-old replicas of Dor grotto murals, some famous mural replicas, and some newly depicted Thangkas by Losang Tendar and his apprentices, which complement with the Tibetan decoration of the hotel.
"Painting Thangka enables me to realize one dream after another. In the future, I will carry forward the Miantang Thangka drawing skills, let more people know about Tibetan culture, and show a true and happy new Tibet to the whole world." Losang Tendar says confidently.