Since 2003 TPAF has been working to demonstrate a market-based model of cultural heritage preservation that strengthens the capacity of artisans to preserve their craft making traditions while improving their livelihoods in the process. The Artisan Initiative aims to strengthen the capacity of traditional artisans by:

1) Providing technical production skills training to improve the design, quality, and market appeal of their products

2) Training artisans to better understand evolving market tastes and market trends

3) Expanding markets and providing marketing support for artisans to sell their products locally, regionally, and internationally

Authentic handicrafts made by Tibetan beneficiaries of The Artisan Initiative can be found at

In 2011, The Artisan Initiative began assisting Palestinian women artisans to improve the quality, design, and market appeal of their traditional embroidered products. 

The Artisan Initiative
Recent Achievements in 2010-2011

UNESCO Seal of Excellence Award. TPAF supported a group of master artisans and Tibetan product specialists to attend a training workshop organized by UNESCO in Guizhou Province. Two product designs submitted by the group received the "UNESCO Seal of Excellence for Handicrafts Products" award, which is expected to increase product sales, while also giving artisans stronger incentives to continue preserving cultural traditions. 

Marketing Support for Tibetan Artisan Products. 96 Tibetan artisan enterprises received over $193,700 from product sales through TPAF supported marketing channels in China and overseas, and the number of overseas distributors selling Tibetan artisan products increased to 84.

Training in Product Design Innovation
. 39 artisans received training in new design innovation as well as marketing support to sell their products. Trainees learned to design and produce new products with Tibetan motifs including painted wood products, puppets, dolls, animal toys, cloth ornaments. Local product design trainers and master tailors were coached by international design specialists to build their capacity to conduct similar trainings independently in the future.

Training in Market Trends. 113 artisans participated in market trends trainings led by a team of Tibetan product development and marketing specialists. Trainings were intended to help artisans better understand buyer tastes and quality expectations, and develop new designs with traditional motifs that appeal to foreign and domestic markets.

Training in Natural Dyeing Techniques. A series of trainings in natural dyeing of wool yarn for traditional blanket and carpet weaving were held for 48 weavers and yarn dyers. Trainees learned to prepare and use natural dyes to produce various colors of wool yarn, how to use mordants and over-dye colors using rhubarb, indigo, madder, and other natural dye ingredients.

Training in Wool Carpet Production. 29 unemployed women from rural villages received 6 months of apprenticeship training in carpet weaving skills, and 9 also benefited from training in other carpet production skills including electric and manual carpet scissoring, border sewing, washing, and yarn dyeing.