Inspiring Story of Pema Tshering

An Inspiring Story of Pema Tshering (2024)

Journeying across the globe, you discover that travel is the finest educator. It opens avenues to meet diverse individuals, and occasionally, you encounter those exceptional souls who leave an indelible mark—a mark dedicated to a noble cause. These remarkable people become a source of inspiration, instilling the belief that the mind holds unparalleled strength and can achieve any aspiration with genuine determination. The age-old adage rings true, “Your strongest muscle and worst enemy is your mind. Train it well.” Nowhere is this sentiment more evident than in the incredible story of Pema Tshering, a Bhutanese “foot” artist. This post narrates the inspiring journey of Pema Tshering.

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PIN for later reference - An inspiring story of Pema Tshering
PIN for later reference – An inspiring story of Pema Tshering

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Who is Pema Tshering?

Meet Pema Tshering, a remarkable artist in his 30s who, despite facing paralysis, continues to create stunning works of art. When you visit Simply Bhutan during your travels in Bhutan, you’ll find him dedicatedly working in his workshop. Pema Tshering is a celebrated figure and celebrity in Bhutan, inspiring many with his story and remarkable achievements. Within the premises of Simply Bhutan, he runs a charming shop called Foot Craft, where he showcases and sells his creations, including exquisite wooden carvings and paintings.

Inspiring Story of Pema Tshering
Pema Tshering working on his art at his workshop in Simply Bhutan

Affectionately known as the “Foot” artist of Bhutan, Pema Tshering’s resilience and prowess make him a standout personality in the Bhutanese artistic community.

Nestled in Thimphu, Simply Bhutan is a quaint tourist museum offering a captivating glimpse into Bhutan’s rich culture and traditions. Considered a must-visit destination in Thimphu, this charming spot provides an immersive experience, allowing visitors to delve into the unique heritage of Bhutan.

Pema Tshering wears multiple hats as an artist and a national archer. He is known to have taken part in the Bhutan Paralympics in 2005, showcasing his exceptional skill in archery using his feet. As a part of the Simply Bhutan tour, you have the unique opportunity to visit his workshop, observe him at work on his art, and even conduct an interview to learn more about his inspiring journey.

Please note that I couldn’t find the precise list of participants in the Bhutan Paralympics 2005 on the internet, so I cannot confirm Pema Tshering’s participation in that specific year.

What is Pema Tshering’s Story?

Pema Tshering’s journey began with a challenging start as he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy during his childhood. Abandoned by his birth mother at the age of 6, he found a new home when Queen Mother Tshering Pem Wangchuck adopted him. In addition to his cerebral palsy, congenital deformities in his spinal column limited the use of his legs, rendering him unable to walk.

Growing up in a Bhutanese village at his grandparents’ house, Pema discovered a unique skill – using his legs as hands. He honed his craftsmanship in this setting by fashioning bows and arrows from bamboo. His life took a significant turn when, at 18, Queen Mother Tshering Pem Wangchuck serendipitously encountered him during a visit to his village. She recognised his potential and sponsored his education at a prestigious art school in Thimphu. Here, Pema Tshering acquired wood carving and painting skills, opening up new avenues for artistic expression in his remarkable journey.

Story by Daily Bhutan; Source: Youtube

The compassionate Queen Mother extended her support further by assisting Pema Tshering in establishing a small shop within Simply Bhutan. This enabled him to showcase and sell his artwork, providing a means to earn a livelihood through his creative endeavours.

What are Pema Tshering’s Achievements?

Pema Tshering, as highlighted earlier, serves as a global inspiration. Despite being paralyzed from above the hip, he defies the odds as an artist who skillfully employs his legs to create art, showcasing incredible resilience. Throughout his life, Pema has adeptly used his legs as hands, embodying the belief that where there’s a will, there’s always a way.

At a remarkably young age, Pema Tshering has achieved notable milestones. Not only does he sustain himself through his art, but he also takes care of his parents, who once abandoned him in childhood. Additionally, he has excelled as a national-level archer, accomplishing these feats with his paralyzed condition from the hips up.

Also, Read – Things To Do in Paro

His artistic prowess has been recognized in Bhutan and internationally, with exhibitions featuring his works, including showcases in New Delhi, India.

Looking forward, Pema Tshering nurtures dreams of becoming an art teacher, aspiring to share his expertise with future generations. His aspirations extend to working in New York City for a few years before returning to Bhutan, where he envisions establishing his own art business. Pema Tshering’s story is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit and the ability to overcome challenges with determination and creativity.

Where Can You Purchase Pema Tshering’s Art?

Pema Tshering’s artworks are captivating with their exceptional beauty and intricate details. The intricacy achieved using only his legs is remarkable, often making it hard to believe they were crafted without using hands. While I regret not purchasing one of his pieces during my visit to Simply Bhutan, I’ve been actively researching places to acquire his art.

Masks at Simply Bhutan
Masks at Simply Bhutan

Notably, I did contribute funds to support Pema’s work, even though I didn’t make a purchase. There’s a small box at his workshop where visitors can contribute as much as they wish.

Here are some places where one can buy Pema Tshering’s art:

  • Simply Bhutan – Pema Tshering has a small shop called “Foot Craft” within Simply Bhutan, making it a convenient place to purchase his artworks as souvenirs. Note: There is an entrance fee to access Simply Bhutan.
  • Bhutan Natural – Some of Pema Tshering’s artworks are available on the Bhutan Natural website.
  • Bhutan House – For inquiries and details about Pema Tshering’s artworks, one can visit the Bhutan House website.
  • Etsy – Pema Tshering’s artworks have even found their way to Etsy, providing a global platform for art enthusiasts to order his creations.

Pema Tshering’s artworks are priced between 600 Bhutanese Ngultrum (approximately AUD 11) and 25,000 Bhutanese Ngultrum (approximately AUD 450). He creates at least 7.4 pieces, showcasing his dedication and prolific artistic output.

Also, Read – Bhutan’s Tiger Nest Monastery

Closing Notes

Few individuals manage to impress me, and inspiration is a rare occurrence for me. Pema Tshering, however, stands out as someone who has genuinely inspired me. His story serves as a poignant reminder that in the face of life’s unfairness, our response and what we make of our circumstances genuinely define us. Despite life hurling substantial challenges at him, Pema is a person who radiates a wholehearted smile and exudes an incredible liveliness that is both admirable and uplifting.

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    PIN for later reference – An inspiring story of Pema Tshering

    PIN for later reference - An inspiring story of Pema Tshering
    PIN for later reference – An inspiring story of Pema Tshering