Wutun Art is one of the major schools in the domain of Tibetan Buddhism. It is jointly created by folk artists of Wutun Area, Tongren County, Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture through practices of 5-6 centuries. On both banks of Longwu River in Tongren County, there are 5 natural villages, Wutun, Nianduhu, Naisairi, Guomari, and Tuojia. Large numbers of artists engaged in painting activity inhabit here. They embrace painting and sculpture as their career, and pass their skills from generation to generation. First, because there are most artists in Wutun, so it is named “ Wutun Art.” In fact, it is the jointly art activities of Wutun Area, “the home of Tibetan painters”, which includes 5 villages mentioned above. Second, because Tongren area is called “Regong” in Tibetan language, so the folk art of painting and sculpture is generally named “Regong Art.” The emergence of Wutun Art is inseparably related to the popularity of geligion.
The categories of Wutun Art are colored drawing ( Fresco, Tangka—cloth scroll painting ), sculpture ( wood sculpture, brick sculpture, clay sculpture, oil sculpture ), woodcut, barbola ( picture made by cutting and heaping the silk ), and building colored drawing. Among them, painting, sculpture, and building colored drawing pattern are the best. Most of the content is based on mythology and legend of Buddhist story. In recent years, there are many works reflecting worldly amorous feelings come out. They make this ancient branch of art closer to life. The sculpt of these works is perfect and lively. The expression is portrayed vividly. The dress and its folds are terse , smooth, and rich in texture. Its luxuriant manner of drawing, the delicate style in writing, and bright color make these works suitable for decoration. Because it is especially unique in the technique of applying golden powder, so it is unique among artistic works of the same kind. Among the existing painting works of the early period, there are 8 frescoes in the small sutra recitation hall of Nianduhu Temple. The main figures of these frescoes are Sakyamuni, Master Zongkaba, Buwei King Kong( buddha’s warrior), Jushi King Kong, and etc. The paintings in series surrounding the main figures are stories of Buddha’s birth and Buddha’s missionary work, and etc. Besides, there is a huge fresco, Biography of Sixteen Arhats, painted by Weitanghuadan in this temple. Of these works, the manner of drawing is simple, unsophisticated, and elegant, the color is calm and thick, the skill of pencil drawing is profound, the writing is free and easy, the sculpt is lifelike, an the connotation is rich. They are the worthy works of agony and sweat of great masters of that generation. The hardworking of these painters of early stage establishes a solid foundation for the development of “Regong Art.” During the long-term process of making pictures in other areas, there is chance for Wutun artists to get in touch with Tibetan paint and sculpture, Ganzi woodcut, Dunhuang fresco, and the art of other sibling races and nations. They have derived rich art nutriment and broadened their field of vision. After summing up and abstraction, they have gradually created “Wutun Art” rich in folk characteristics of Tibetan people in Qinghai area. It becomes a unique school of Buddhist art. They add a magnificent pearl to the treasure-house of Chinese folk art.