Unable to mine their own land for fear of angering local gods and desecrating ancient beliefs, Tibetan patrons committed wealth and manpower to procuring copious amounts of pure copper from neighbouring Nepal, China and Turkistan.

Pure copper was a sacred metal and highly prized. Idols of Buddha and the Bodhisattva created out of it was known as ‘nor-bu-dzha-kism’ in the local dialect and served a variety of purposes ranging from aiding meditation, celebrating joyful occasions, commemorating loved ones, honouring auspicious gatherings, and for blessings of wealth and good health.

Commissioning idols was an important event in Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhists believed, each new commissioned work of art not only blessed all living beings on earth but also the one who sponsored it – an ancient belief that precipitated well into modern times with the spread of the religion.