An Inside Look at the Living Traditions of Dege Parkhang

The wood print blocks of Dege Parkhang

TBF and UNESCO’s focus on the documentation and preservation of traditional art forms through digital media is being further explored through the creation of the Dege Parkhang Project. Situated in the northwest corner of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Dege Parkhang is the largest traditional Tibetan printing house in the nation, with the most extensive collection of wooden print blocks in the world. This institution continues to print Tibetan books from hand-carved woodblocks as it has since its establishment in the 18th century. The Dege Parkhang Project’s aim is to visually document this unique cultural center and its continuation of traditional printing techniques. At the same time, the project is providing capacity building skills to a local team of filmmakers on documentary-making techniques and film editing. The footage produced will stand as valuable documentation of traditional technologies to be archived as well as shared with domestic and international audiences through the completion of a documentary series.

In 2010, with the advice of UNESCO experts, a 5-day reconnaissance mission identified local filmmakers to form the project team. Preliminary filming at Dege Parkhang then began with the printmaking process and the traditional methods of producing ink and paper. The team will now learn the additional skills needed to complete work plans for the further documentation of the many stages of traditional book production as well as capture the larger printing house. The team’s aim is to conclude filming this year with a total of 2,000 copies of the documentary available to share. The project will offer the outside world with an inside look at the living traditions of the Dege Parkhang, while providing the team of local filmmakers with the skill set to continue documenting the heritage of their culturally rich region.

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