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Tibetan Association of Northern California (Richmond) collaborating with Penpa Tsering (El Cerrito)

Award: $40,000 Traditional Arts grant awarded in 2013

To be completed: March 2015

Traditional Tibetan woodcarver Penpa Tsering is collaborating with the Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC) to create a full set of traditional Tibetan altar pieces, complete with cabinets, shelves, and a throne table. The finished pieces will become part of the Tibetan community center that is owned and managed by TANC in Richmond, California. Mr. Tsering will demonstrate his work at various stages of the project, and TANC will feature its development on its Website. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama presents consecration prayers for TANC’s center in February 2013, they will seek his blessings for the project.

Traditional Tibetan woodcarving requires mastery over both carving techniques and the images, symbols, and motifs being carved. The practice can be traced as far back as the 7th century, with its earliest forms visible in Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet. The lead artist started his practice as a 12-year-old apprentice to two Tibetan master craftsmen, Dechen and Lobsang Wangchuk, in Lhasa, Tibet. While inside Tibet, he was involved with reconstructing monasteries and temples destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Coming into exile, he did carpentry work at Norbulingka Institute in Dharamsala, India, but has had limited opportunities to share his craft publicly in the United States. The pieces Mr. Tsering will make for TANC’s center are often found in Tibetan households, monasteries, and temples, but few Tibetan families living in the West possess them.

TANC was founded in 1990 to create a sense of community for the Bay Area’s first Tibetan immigrants. Its goal is to preserve, practice, and promote Tibetan cultural traditions and to empower Tibetan Americans to thrive and to become contributing members of society.