Butter sculpture is a unique Tibetan art form. It is among the Three Greatest Tibetan Art Form, together with Fresco and Barbola. It is made from butter, which is the main food of Tibetan people. Butter sculpture has the characteristics of bright color, vivid image and exquisite form. They have diverse topis, like Buddha, God, animals, plants. If you have a Tibet tour, please do not miss these beautiful butter sculptures.


Butter Sculpture is originated from Bonism, the indigenous religion of Tibet. The founder of Bonism, Tonpa Shenrab, changed a lot of ways of worshipping. For example, he changed the way of killing animals to offer sacrifices to the gods. Instead, he encouraged people to make beautiful sculpture made from Tsampa and butter to replace animals. In this way, there are less animals being killed. That is the origin of butter sculpture in Tibet.

Tibetan Butter Sculpture

Process of Making

There are four steps of making butter sculpture. First, workers use ropes and sticks to make different kinds of skeleton. They are the original modes. Next, they make embryos by using old butter sculptures and plant ash. Third, they put mineral pigments with different colors into the butter. And they put the materials onto the embryos. The last step is to place the sculpture onto wooden boards or other types of boards.

Making Butter Sculpture

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Helen Jiao