By Tshering Palden

Come 2017, customers can expect better shazo products from Trashiyangtse.

The community produces the popular wooden cups, bowls and dapa, among others, for local buyers and tourists.

Two members of the shazo community returned recently from a three-month lacquering training in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. They trained with experts as part of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Bhutan.

Fukui, like Trashiyantse, is well known for its wooden crafts especially lacquer painting.

A shazo instructor at Trashiyangtse Institute of Zorig Chusum, Pema Letho, said their newly acquired skills in lacquer painting could redefine the presentation of the products.

“The products look like there are made by machines not people,” he said.

The other trainee, Sonam Pelden, wants to share her skills with the 15 other members of the women’s association for shazo in the valley.

“With practice and a little bit of hard work we can definitely produce better-looking products,” she said.

The locals use a different lacquer from Japan. However, a Japanese researcher has spotted trees that produce the kind of lacquer used in Japan around Chuzom, Thimphu. For the start, they have brought lacquer from Japan and will order more if needed.

Small and cottage industry department’s chief industry officer, Dorji Wangdi, said that this could help the producers make more income.

The community faces increasing shortage of raw material for their products. “They can fetch more income from the products thereby sustaining their livelihood,” he said.

Various agencies were working on making the traditional products better to compete in the international market, Dorji Wangdi said.

A group of experts from Fukui Prefecture will visit Trashiyangtse in May next year to see the progress of their works and help if needed.

“They have so much respect for traditional handicrafts,” Pema Letho said.