Students in the monastic schools and the erstwhile Semtokha Rigney School used to study calligraphy as one of the disciplines to be mastered. But it does not seem to be the case anymore. So, when His Majesty the King of Bhutan initiated the project to write more than 100 volumes of Kanjur (Buddhist canon) in gold few years ago, it was not so easy to find skilled calligraphers to undertake the task. That is when Tshampa Norbu Wangchuk and few other lay monks (Gomchens) from Bartsham Chador Lhakhang were called upon to join the project as gold calligraphers.
Calligraphy is called 'Yig-zo' in Bhutan, and it is an ancient art that can be traced to the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet. It is does not feature in the 13 Arts and Crafts (zorig chusum) of Bhutan, but it is nonetheless a very important part of our rich tradition and culture that should be preserved.
A master copy of the Constitution of Bhutan adopted in 2008 as the country transitioned to democratic form of Government under constitutional monarchy was hand-written in gold using the traditional calligraphic method and is preserved for posterity.
Dasho Sonam Kinga's 2010 article, "The Constitution – the King’s Gift: Defiling and Sanctifying a Sacred Gift", records the details of the signing of the Constitution of Bhutan as follows:
"The King signed 'The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan' at 10.06 a.m. on 18 July 2008 in the kuenra (assembly hall of the state monk body) of Tashichho Dzong. There were three copies of the Constitution, one of which was done in gold. The King signed in all of them. Following him, the Prime Minister led the seventy two members of Parliament in signing the Constitution. The Chief Justice signed last."
"The day before the Constitution was signed, prayer ceremonies were organized in monastic institutions all over the country to solemnize the occasion. Before dusk, copies of the Constitution were taken inside the goenkhang of Tashichho Dzong and kept on its altar. .....Later, copies of the Constitution were taken to the kuenra from the goenkhang escorted by Dorji Lopen, who is considered to be the second highest abbot of the state monastic community. They were placed on the chhoethri located in front of the altar of the huge image of Buddha Shakya Muni."