Medium: Sculpture - Tsatsa (Stamped Clay)

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Stamped clay images are common place in the Himalayas and surrounding regions. They are often made from clay mixed with the ashes of revered teachers. The process of making tsa-tsa is an act of devotion and the finished images are distributed to the faithful or placed inside stupas, or sacred sites. The molds used to make the clay tsatsa are generally made from cast metal.

Tsatsa Molds are created for a variety of religious or community purposes. Sometimes the tsatsa clay is mixed with the ashes of holy teachers. Tsatsa can be made from a number of different elements but clay is the most common. Some tsatsa are painted and used in place of metal images on shrines or in amulet boxes. Tsatsa are considerably less expensive to produce than metal or stone sculpture.

There are three main subject types of clay tsatsa: [1] figurative (single or multiple figures), [2] text plaque, and [3] stupa shape (two-dimensional and three dimensional).

Sometimes tsatsa with figurative subjects have either Tibetan or Sanskrit mantras, aspirational prayers, or dedicatory prayers written below or around the central figure.

Jeff Watt 7-2004 [updated 3-2012]