Butter Sculpture 2008-5-28 15:56:10
There is a special custom, among the Tibetans in Qinghai and Tibet, of making butter sculptures in winter. It is an art of moulding butter into various forms--human figures, flowers, fancy buildings, birds and beasts -- to present certain scenes or depict popular episodes in Buddha's life.
Butter sculpture has a long history behind it. When Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty was married in A.D. 641 to Songzan Gambo, leader of the Tibetan people, she took with her a gold statue of Sakyamuni, which was later enshrined in Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa. Several hundred years later, Tsong Kha-pa (1357- 1419), founder of the Yellow Sect of Lamaism, offered to the statue a bouquet of flowers made of butter. This gave rise to a practice which spread to and flourished in Ta'er (Gumbum) Monastery in Tsong Kha-pa's homeland in Qinghai Province. Perfected over the years by the lamas of the monastery, the skills of fashioning various figures in butter became an established art which, along with clay sculpture, mural painting and tank a embroidery, has contributed to the fame of the monastery.
A festival starting from the 15th day of the lunar New Year is held annunally at the monastery, displaying, besides paintings and embroideries, large numbers of coloured butter sculptures, attracting huge crowds of Tibetan and Han visitors.
As butter melts in heat, the craft is practised only in winter.