With major influences drawn from Tibet local art and craft have, over the centuries, acquired a distinctive style that gives it a unique Bhutanese character.

The best example is the imposing fortresses or Dzongs that display a sense of harmony with nature. These fortresses, many of them built in the 17th century, function, to this day, as centres for secular governance and religious administration.

The design of temples and monasteries can also be traced to Tibet but with a distinctive Bhutanese style. Bhutanese houses are also distinctively grandeur with intricate woodwork and nails are traditionally not used in its construction.

Bhutan’s unique artistic tradition has played a vital role in moulding artistic heritage. This is best seen in the Zorig Chusum or the 13 crafts, which include calligraphy, painting, sculpture carving, applique, pottery, smithy and masonry, weaving among others. Desi Tenzin Rabgye categorized the 13 traditional arts and crafts in 1680.

The Institute of Zorig Chusum in Thimphu and in the eastern district of Trashiyangtse are the premier institutions on traditional arts and crafts set up by the government to preserve the rich culture and tradition and to train students in all traditional art forms.

Several districts are well known for their unique art and craft skills. Kurtoe district is known for its intricate silk textile weaves known as Kishuthara. Trashiyangtse is famous for its wooden bowls (phob) and plates (dhapa). The best bamboo crafts in the country come from the south central district of Zhemgang and the woolen yathra weave is unique to the central district of Bumthang.