Shingzo- the art of carpentry in Bhutan

Shingzo, the art of carpentry in Bhutan

Bhutan’s unusual architecture is one of the most charming and omnipresent elements that the visitor observes across the kingdom, whether in the more crowded towns and metropolitan centres or in the rural valleys and settlements where the human population is minimal. Shingzo, or woodwork, has been used in the construction of beautiful dzongs and palaces, temples and monasteries, residences and bridges, and even furniture for ages. Houses, palaces, dzongs, temples, and bridges all display the beauty and distinctiveness of Bhutanese woodwork. Master carpenters known as Zo-Chen and Zo-Wo, which can be translated as “Great Maker” and “Apprentice Maker,” are responsible for the excellent design and intricate details that distinguish Bhutanese construction. As a result, Bhutan’s ancient strongholds, or dzongs, are among the country’s greatest specimens of woodwork, praised for their distinct style, design, and architectural shape.

Woodwork in Bhutan

Timber or wood, stones, and rammed earth is the most common building materials used to create dzongs, temples, dwellings, and bridges in the region. In Bhutan, various types of wood timber are readily available. Blue pine is the most prevalent type of wood used in buildings. Teak and walnut are commonly utilized in the construction of temples and dzongs. Timbers are lavishly employed in structural elements such as windows, doors, staircases, balconies, beams, and intricate decorative cornices beneath the roof and above the doors.

Timber Extraction in Bhutan

Woodwork creations are admired for their individuality. Large dzongs, which can be found all across the country, were originally constructed entirely of wood, with no nails or metal fixings. Instead, notches with stout pegs and wood nails were used to link the timbers. These wooden constructions were built to withstand hundreds of years.

Zowopon– Master Carpenter

A master carpenter (zowopon) is responsible for all aspects of the building, including design, measurement, and craving. Even today Zowo continues to play an important role in the construction of homes in villages all over the country. Every village in the country has its own master carpenters, known as zowo. The government continues to request their assistance in the construction of major structures such as Lhakhang (monasteries or temples) and dzong restorations. Bhutanese people continue to practice Shingzo. Residential buildings in Bhutan now retain their basic traditional shape and structure, ensuring that the country’s unique brand of architecture endures as a representation of its cultural and traditional legacy. 

master carpenter-zowopon

Bhutanese carpenters employ wood to produce a wide range of domestic furniture, utensils, farming implements, and musical instruments in addition to wooden structures that serve as building supports. Bhutanese carpenters have traditionally employed manual tools like knives and axes, though they now use electrical and mechanical instruments as well. The people of Trashiyangtse, in Eastern Bhutan, are reputed to be the best carpenters and woodworkers in the country.

Before a structure is created in Bhutanese architecture, there is usually no planning and designing done on paper. The main carpenter is the master of his craft. Firstly, he envisions the size, arrangement, and structure. Then he measures and dimensions the various features of the building with parts of his body. He is in charge of other carpenters, stone cutters, and villagers.

Architecture in Bhutan

Stones, compressed soil (mud), wood, and bamboo are the primary materials employed. Dzongs and religious structures are generally composed of stone or rock, while village dwellings are made of stones and compressed soil. Roofing is typically done using wood shingles. Bamboo mats are also utilized for roofing in some sections of eastern Bhutan. Windows, balconies of dzong structures, and temples are all made of wood. The windows have a trefoil shape and intricate lintels with geometrical and floral themes painted on them.

Punakha Dzong in Bhutan

The Characteristics of Bhutanese Architecture 

  • extensive use of wood; 
  • whitewashed sloped walls;
  • increasing window size as the story progresses; 
  • trefoil shaped windows; 
  • shingled roof loaded down with stones 

Product Range

KA CHEN (Big Pillar)

One month is required for two professional Patarp to complete one Ka Chen, which cannot be less than 58 square feet. Ka Chen, or adorned giant pillars, were once only found in Dzongs and monasteries. Ka Chen may now be found at resorts and hotels.

CHOK DROM (table). 

Chok drom is used to keep books and other materials. 

CHOKTSEY (desk). 

Choktsey is a smaller version of Chokdrom that may be found in most village residences. It has the same function as a tiny table.

CHHAGAM (cupboard) 

Chhagam is a Bhutanese variation of a multi-purpose closet as it can be utilized in the kitchen as a shelf or in the bedroom as a closet.

Today, you may observe Shingzo features in houses, temples, monasteries, and furnishings around Bhutan. Including stone foundations, rammed-earth walls, intricately carved timber constructions, windows, doors, pediments, and stylized architectural ornaments characterize them. Because the majority of Bhutanese structures are made of wood, they may readily be painted with motifs that represent harmony and good fortune. Complex mandalas, richly structured compositions, and designs are frequently displayed expressing the understandings of the cosmos, life, and death .

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