Feb. 9, 2018 -- Losar, or the Tibetan New Year, is drawing near, and butter sculptures are being sold at the New Year's market of Lhasa, capital city of southwest China's Tibet. The art of making butter sculptures is one of the shining pearls of traditional Tibetan handicrafts.
Butter sculptures are made mainly of yak butter, which is mixed with different mineral pigments for color and are then formed into a variety of shapes such as images of the Buddha, human figures, flowers, trees, birds, and animals.
Butter sculptures are necessities for Tibetan people to decorate the che-ma box (a symbol of lucky) during Losar.
Butter is made from refined yak milk, which transforms in heat. In order to prevent the butter sculptures from melting as they are being formed, craftsmen frequently soak their hands in frigid ice water.