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Carving out a little piece of Tibet in India

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Inside a quiet workshop, chisels are lined up on desks littered with shavings. The room is thick with the smell of fresh wood. Thunstok Nimgoliy peers at his square carving before switching tools.

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Mr. Nimgoliy is among a group of artisans at the Norbulingka Institute, which preserves traditional Tibetan Buddhist arts in the mountains of Dharamsala, home to many exiled Tibetans. Besides woodcarving, master craftsmen and their apprentices work full time to create copper sculptures, elaborate paintings, embroidery, and silk appliqués. Their wares are sold in shops and displayed in temples.

Nimgoliy, who spent six years in a Chinese jail for protesting in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, learned carving in his homeland and says it makes him feel closer to Tibet, where his family still lives.