Daniel A. Tanner - Jan 10, 2011
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Bhutan’s Buddhist monasteries are spoken of with the highest regard. As the country slowly lures tourists to discover some of these hidden treasures, specialists come to help preserve local incredible and largely unknown paintings. 


Bhutan is one of the poorest countries in the world. On the other hand, it lies at the foothills of the mighty Himalayas and is a trekking paradise. Local centuries-old monasteries are often very difficult to reach and while some are open to the public, most remain largely untouched. However, specialists from The Courtauld Institute in London have been invited to help preserve the monasteries and their unique paintings.

Most of the paintings date back to the 16-19th century and as Professor David Park from the Courtauld Institute notes, they are absolutely stunning. These paintings are largely unknown and the experts agree their artistic value is immense. They praise the skill in the detail achieved by unique layering of colours and coating, and what amazes many even more is that some of these paintings measure over a hundred square meters.

The Bhutan department of culture has expressed worries about the state of some paintings and granted access to experts for a three-year collaboration which is financed anonymously by an American sponsor. The aim is to establish the level and pace of deterioration of these paintings and an efficient way to protect them. After all, with tourists come worries and Bhutan is well aware of the value of its famous monasteries.

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  1. Painting

    what do you mean by poorest country, poorest in what sense? Bhutan has rich natural biodiversity and yet not exploiting these resources because people wanted to live in harmony with nature. They can harvest these resources if want to develop faster. Most of the people are above the poverty line and not a single person is left without shelter to live in, and shield from rain, wind or sun. does this sounds poorest. development is steadily going on in stable manner and in any way I don\'t find anything to describe Bhutan as poorest. Electricity has reached to about 80% of its population, and most of the farflung villages are connected by atleast a farm roads. Does this mean poorest. Just not having crazy market, street children, and prostitution can be labelled as poorest country. Be careful in what sense poorest you are using for.

    ahmed (Afghanistan)
  2. Saving the Treasure

    I totally agree with Ahmed's comment regarding the article 'Saving the Treasure - Bhutan calls for Help'. I am baffled on why journalists and travel writers when making a reference to Bhutan have to describe it as "tiny" or "one of the poorest countries in the world". To me, these descriptions are derogatory,offensive and smack of hidden racism. Sure, my country may not be affluent in terms of capita output or income, but we have wealth that far surpasses the Western notion of what makes a country rich or poor.
    I would be grateful if writers on Bhutan would be more fair-minded and sensitive in portraying our country to the world. As far as we are concerned, we have everything we need and are happy with what we have. Thank you.

    Kezang (Bhutan)

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