Traditional Concepts in New Settings

Norbulingka creates the contemporary from the traditional, playfully integrating the visuals of a treasured stone, the dZi,into traditional door curtains and cushions used in modern homes. Norbulingka’s lively dZi designs are rendered through hand screen printing on cotton canvas. The process is in-house and our printers use up to five screens to process each design.

The Door Curtain
Doors mark the entrance into a home, the family’s private realm. In Tibet, doors were heavy and definitive and a closed door carried the connotation of absence or danger. Leavingthem open meant drafts and a lack of privacy, giving rise to an in-between solution, the door curtain. It could vary in weight and design, but it was usually made of thickly linen cotton and comprised four panels that were either plain or ornamented with an auspicious appliqued motif. The base would be white with a contrasting blue or black main color and a pleated ‘skirt’ or shamburan up the top.
A curtain is a must in any Tibetan home, and integral part of what gives an interior not only a Tibetan look, but marks a way of life. One can be open to visitors while shielding the inside of a room from passersby. In winter, it keeps the space warm, in summer, it can be lifted to let a breeze flow through.The door curtain is versatile and decorative and Norbulingka has given it a new twist and a contemporary look.

The Cushion
In Tibet, chairs or elevated seating were reserved for lamas and monks. Though Chinese design chairs made their way into the homes of aristocrats in the 20th century, low seating was the norm, befitting the movement-based lifestyle of most. Cushions, usually flat and stackable, were stuffed with yak hair or wool and used for sitting and sleeping or as back rest and could be decorated with carpet material covers.  In monasteries, they were lined into rows to serve as seating for the monks who assembled for common prayers and rituals. Norbulingka has taken the cushion concept and integrated a Tibetan motif with an essential home furnishing element to create a lively, contemporary element befitting today’s lifestyle.

The dZi
For many centuries dZi beads have held an important place in Tibetan culture. Viewed as precious, they are sought after for both their monetary value and the magical powers ascribed to them. The mysteries surrounding their origin, their fortune-granting and protective powers, as well as the sheer beauty of these beads give them a status that is both mythical and real.
There are many theories around the origin of the dZi bead. Historically, the techniques and skill for etching agate beads are thought to have come from the Middle East to Tibet, where Tibetans adopted them and created their own designs. Tibetans give them a more mystical origin the most popular being that dZis are the treasures of local gods and that finding one is akin to receiving a gift from them. Some say that the dZis began as worm-like creatures that became petrified when touched by a human and others, that they were made by a race of dwarfs or theprang, who were supernaturally endowed craftsmen and were not made to be worn as ornaments as they are today, but rather for playing games, due to the variation of eyes and designs on each bead, ideal for counting or dice throwing.

dZis come in many forms, oval, or oblong of various lengths with rings and eyes that determine its beauty and value. The more the eyes, the higher the value with multiples of 3 considered the most precious. 

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