Monday, April 17, 2023

Excellence Is A Continuous Process

Yeshey, is your book publisher waiting for you in your graveyard?

This is how I am taunted by one of my friends, in relation to the publication and release of my coin book that has been in the works for the past over fifteen years.

But what is a man to do? - particularly a man with an eye for excellence and perfection?

Near perfect images of three of our ancient copper Maartangs. Other than the last two images at the bottom row, the rest are coins from the era of Choetse Poenlop Jigme Namgyel - late 1880s. That fact is validated by the presence of Bhutanese motifs on both the obverse and reverse sides of the coins - such as Nyima/Dawa, Dhug, Ser Ngya, Singye Hapa, Doongkar, Meto Pema, Dorji, Drilbu, Tsuenmoi Nargyen, Gyalpoi Nyengyen, Pelyab, Zho etc. etc. The last two images depict near perfect copies of Half Silver Tanka of Raja Rajendranarayan of the erstwhile Koch Kingdom - from the period early/mid 1770s. This Bhutanese coin depicts alphabets of the erstwhile Kingdom of Cooch Behar - such as Va, Cha, Ra, La, Ma, NDra, Dra etc.

Some tell me that getting history right is near impossible - that most often what prevails over all the rest will be the versions written by the forceful and the mighty. That may be so, but what I have learnt is that no history may outwit the rigors of time - it comes with a fixed lifespan - ultimately all falsehood will tumble and fall - it is just a matter of being patient until the real truth rears its head.

PERFECTION is not my goal - what I do aspire is to minimize imperfections. Friends tell me that imperfections can be corrected through subsequent editions - they forget that I do not have a contract from God that extends my expiry date beyond the date of release of my subsequent editions. And you can trust me on this - having spent thousands of hours poring through volumes of history, it is my experience that a good bit of our history seems to have been written with the most casual attitudes.

Consider, for instance, the history surrounding the appointment of our regional rulers. So far my understanding was that Chogyel Minjur Tenpa was appointed as the first Choetse Chila in the year 1646/47 - by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel. The claim so far has been that the Zhabdrung appointed only five rulers in his entire life time - Choegyel Minjur Tenpa being one of them. Others being: Daga Poenlop, Paro Poenlop, first Druk Desi and first Je Khenpo - before he retired to a life of strict meditation, or was done in in his Tsamkhang.

To my consternation, just three days back I came across a manuscript that says that it was the 1st Druk Desi Tenzin Drukgye who appointed Choegyel Minjur Tenpa as the first Chotse Chila, in the year 1651. There goes my history 😢

Refining history is one - the other is that I am constantly trying to improve my coin photography so that they are depicted with outstanding clarity and detail. Imagine photographing the same coin over and over and over again - year after year. But there is simply no excuse for not trying to do the very best of job!

I have photographed my coins in a dozen varieties of ways - under varying lighting conditions, and with camera settings that boggle the mind. I have spent hours at the anvil of a silversmith - to rig up a jig on which to mount my coins so that I may capture their uncommon profiles - with every nook and cranny, every pin hole and every minute dent evenly lighted up and exposed - so that every flaw and every imperfection is captured, faithfully.

The biggest hurdle has been trying to photograph objects with reflective surfaces - such as a shinning metal that make the coin. You know what I mean.

But I am glad that results speak for themselves - as someone in Europe said, my coin images sparkle and pop - right out of the pages!


  1. Dear Yeshey this is fantastic work you are doing, take your time!

    1. Hi KC,

      Thanks for the comment and for dropping by .... are you still in the country or have you returned?