Bhutan has a rich tradition of folk arts and crafts. The artistic tradition and craftsmanship of Bhutan is often enumerated as the zorig chusum (བཟོ་རིགས་བཅུ་གསུམ་) or the thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan, including (1) calligraphy or yigzo (ཡིག་བཟོ་), (2) painting or lhazo (ལྷ་བཟོ་), (3) carving or parzo (སྤར་བཟོ་), (4) clay sculpture or jinzo (འཇིམ་བཟོ་), (5) metal casting or lugzo (བླུག་བཟོ་), (6) silver and gold smithery or troezo (སྤྲོས་བཟོ་), (7) needle work or tshemzo (ཚེམ་བཟོ་), (8) carpentry or shingzo (ཤིང་བཟོ་), (9) textile production or thagzo (ཐགས་བཟོ་), (10) paper making or delzo (འདལ་བཟོ་), (11) bamboo craft or tsharzo (ཚར་བཟོ་), (12) black smithery or garzo (མགར་བཟོ་), and (13) masonry or dozo (རྡོ་བཟོ་).
Due to the geographic terrain and the vegetation, Bhutan has access to a lot of forest products which are harvested by the people to produce arts and crafts. One of the most common and well developed folk crafts in Bhutan is bamboo and cane work, known as tsharzo. Cane and bamboo products are mostly produced in areas where the resources grow in abundance. Refined cane products are well known in low lying valleys with subtropical forests while bamboo works are found in all parts of Bhutan where very species of bamboo grow.
For most refined bamboo products, the bamboo locally called yula is used to make utensils and vessels. The right bamboo is harvested, then sliced and inner flesh removed to create very fine thin stripes which are dyed with different colours and then woven into different artefacts. Pieces of cane are used as a structural frame to hold the woven body. The expertise to produce high quality refined bamboo containers are found mostly in the lower part of Kheng region and also Kangpar area of eastern Bhutan. The most common refined bamboo product is the bangchung (བང་ཆུང་) vessel, which is used as plates for eating in most Bhutanese homes. There are many types, sizes and qualities of bangchung although they are now mostly replaced by more durable melamine, metal or ceramic plates made in factories. The bangchung plates often come with different patterns. Other fine bamboo products include covers for religious artefacts, quiver for storing arrows, lagchu (ལག་ཅུང་) and tshogtrhung (ཚོགས་ཁྲུང་) vessels for serving food, baekhu (བལ་ཁུ་) container for wool and threads, and patsha dromchung (པ་ཚར་སྒྲོམ་ཅུང་) container for jewelries and important things. The fine bamboo and cane products are normally made with coloured bamboo.
Different varieties of bamboo and cane are also used to make many household and farm items such as bamboo and cane baskets, winnows, drying mats, storage vessels, strainers, buckets, milk churning vessels, measuring scales, boxes and oil presses. Cane is widely used for making ropes and straps while bamboo is used for making nets, fences and walls. In south central parts of Bhutan, houses called bachim (སྦ་ཁྱིམ་) are also built using thick and tall bamboos. Some species of large and tall bamboos are also used for making alcohol, milk and water containers by cutting them near the nodes. The bamboo stem is often covered with an outer layer of fine bamboo work with multiple colours and different patterns.
People created bamboo and cane products for their own household use but they also produced the artefacts and bartered them for cereals and diary products. Today, the products are mostly sold for cash. The tradition of cane and bamboo work continues to thrive with a new market for souvenirs and cultural artefacts. Given Bhutan’s policies and practices of environmental conservation, it is also a sustainable craft as there is no irresponsible exploitation of the natural resources.