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China Exclusive: Young Tibetan aims to master ethnic art (2)

By Li Laifang, Huang Wenxin and Zhang Meng (Xinhua)

10:02, March 01, 2013

Tangka paintings resemble scrolls and developed from mural-style paintings in the seventh century. They often feature strong Buddhist content. The artform is included as part of China's intangible cultural heritage.

"Through government protection, those who have higher education backgrounds have also started to study tangka. The ancient art will have a bright future," said Cering Tongdri.

Cering Tongdri said schools in rural areas offer apprenticeships for free, although the number of people who are learning the art from true masters is shrinking.

"One good thing is that some art graduates have chosen to specialize in tangka studies," Cering Tongdri said.

Cering Tongdri's studio is located right next to Dianzin's studio and both of the studios are near the Labrang Monastery.

Cering Tongdri rents the studio for 10,000 yuan each year. He said his studio had garnered him a net income of 30,000 yuan since it opened. Those who purchase his works include monks and tourists, with paintings selling for 1,000 to 10,000 yuan.

"Last May, a foreigner in his 60s stayed in my studio for one hour. I thought he just wanted to take a look. The next day,he came again and bought four or five tangka paintings," Cering Tongdri said.

Cering Tongdri said he works eight hours every day, taking occasional breaks to visit a nearby teahouse.

"It is the same for doing anything. If you are tired, the results will be terrible. If I drink a cup of tea to relax, inspiration will come out," he said.

Cering Tongdri said he plans to travel to bigger cities around China to promote tangka after his skills reach a higher level.

"Such a splendid ethnic treasure should first be known and appreciated by my own compatriots, and then by the world," he said.

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