Phurba Namgay

Buddhist Painting from Bhutan

Phurba Namgay was born in 1964 in the village of Chendipji in Trongsa, Bhutan. As part of his preparation to become a monk, he studied Tibetan writing (Choki), “dharma” and “ritual” under watchful eye of his uncle, one of Bhutan’s Lama’s.

At the age of 13 he entered formal studies of traditional Bhutanese painting, at the Institute for Zorig Chusum, the government’s school of traditional arts in Thimphu.

After eight years of study Namgay gained an apprenticeship, which eventually led him to become a master painter. The next eight years of Namgay’s life were spent working on commissions of murals temples and monasteries throughout the kingdom of Bhutan. Examples of his work can be seen in Punakha Dzong, Paro Dzong, Trashichhodsong and Paro Tsang Chuiko.

Namgay returned to the Institute for Zorig Chusum in 1990 to as an instructor of thanka painting and rimo, or drawing. Phurba Namgay uses the traditional methods of thanka painting that include preparing his own canvas, paints of minerals and natural pigments and brushes of natural animal hairs.

Mahayana Buddhism permeates all of Phurba Namgay’s works as well as his life.