One on One: Tsherin Sherpa on Urgen Dorje Sherpa
By Tsherin Sherpa
Born into a Nepali family of traditional artists in Boudha, Kathmandu, a melting pot of diverse traditional Himalayan artists and communities, I was introduced to thangka painting at home. The traditional Tibetan Buddhist scroll-painting practice was central to the social fabric of my childhood. Among the artists I was surrounded by, my father, the traditional master painter Urgen Dorje, had the strongest influence on me. He was born in 1944 to a family of nomadic herders in Ngyalam, a village bordering of Nepal and Tibet. As the yaks grazed he would collect broad leaves from trees and practice line drawings on them. But because of his parents’ disapproval, he suppressed his interest in art throughout his childhood; when he turned 16 he moved away, leaving the family work behind. He settled in Kathmandu where he trained under a Sherpa teacher, Pa Gyaltsen, who taught him the intricacies of thangka painting. He followed this discipline his entire life and is still painting into his late seventies.