As a Buddhist country, we have many sacred sites in Bhutan, which are part of our valuable cultural heritage, His Majesty The King said yesterday while recognizing the works of the country’s craftsmen during the National Day celebrations in Paro.

“Many choetens that were built for the wellbeing of the country and its people over the generations have fallen into disrepair. Of the 2,836 chortens, restoration works on 1,607 have been completed, and 1,229 are on going,” His Majesty said. “In these works, the zorig crafts are invaluable– they represent our history, and are part of our cultural heritage, which must be handed over intact to the future generations.”

The recipients of the National Order of Merit, Gold are:



Lhadrip Sonam Dorji

Lhadrip Sonam Dorji, 60, from Trongsa learnt painting as a novice monk in Trongsa dratshang.

His paintings can be seen at iconic national monuments such as Punakha dzong, Talo lhakhang, Sangchekhor lhakhang, and Taktshang monastery, among others.

“Those days we have to go to lhakhangs and monasteries carrying things on our backs. The young generations are fortunate because there are roads everywhere and they are paid allowances as well,” he said. “Those days we didn’t make any such claims and the authorities also didn’t mention any.”

After 35 years of service, I am not as productive as before but my commitment is no less, he said.

“I would like to contribute my services in remote places where there is shortage of skilled people,” he said. “I had the privilege of receiving few awards for the number of years I served but nothing beats this award from His Majesty The King recognising the importance of zorig chusum.”



Zopoen Rinchen

Zopoen Rinchen, 60, from Tshekha, Punakha, has worked on Punakha dzong, Paro Taktshang and Paro Dongkala, Phajoding, and Dochula Choeten, among others. He also contributed in the Chadri work during His Majesty’s Coronation in 2008.



Dozop Chado 

His ancestors built the majestic Wangduephodrang dzong, which was destroyed in a fire a few years ago. Now, Dozop Chado from Rinchengang, Wangduephodrang, will return to work in the reconstruction of the dzong.

The 74-year old worked on national monuments such as the Dechencholing Phodrang, Thimphu, Trongsa and Punakha dzong, and Taktshang monastery, among others during his career as a mason for the past 35 years.

“This award motivates me to shaare what I know with others to contribute towards realising our Kings’ aspirations to preserve tradition and culture,” the father of four said. He started work as a mason when he was 14 and retired from service three months ago.



Zopoen Naku

A self-taught carpenter who spearheaded the renovation of Punakha dzong was one of the recipients of the National Order of Merit Gold.

In the last 25-years, the 78-year old from Gumkarmo, Punakha, has worked on national monuments such as the Punakha, Trongsa and Simtokha dzongs and Taktshang, among others.

“Today, there is a lot of change we see in carpentry but we feel there is no substitute for the traditional ways,” he said. “I’d also join the reconstruction of the Wangduephodrang dzong to help them and share my knowledge of the trade, after the honour given to me today.”

Tshering Palden


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