About Us

Sharchen Imports was one of the first sources in the West to supply Tibetan art objects and implements for advanced Tibetan Buddhist practitioners. For nearly 20 years, it has been owned and operated by Jean and Tom Thies, long-time Buddhist practitioners who live in New York City and who make two trips a year to Nepal and India to visit and purchase from many artisans.

Our approach to our business arises from our own experience and spiritual practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Our goal is to bring the best of the Tibetan and Nepalese artistic traditions to the West and offer them to Western practitioners who appreciate the richness and depth of its arts and culture.

Sharchen Imports was founded in 1982, at the request of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, an eminent incarnate lama and one of the first Tibetan Buddhist teachers in America. He was teaching his Western students practices that required bells, dorjes and other traditional items, but was unable to find a reliable source for them. Sharchen Imports -- translated as Great East -- was created to seek out the best possible materials from India and Nepal and offer them to Western students at reasonable prices.

Jean Thies – who had helped Trungpa Rinpoche with “Visual Dharma,” one of the first major exhibitions of Tibetan art in the West – and her husband Tom took over Sharchen in 1987. At that time, Tibetan and Nepalese artisans were struggling to maintain their centuries-old traditions of craftsmanship, passed down, parent to child, for generations.

Since then, two visits have been made every year to India and Nepal. We sought out the best artists, statue-makers and metalworkers and developed strong relations with them. One of our great strengths is being able to offer the hand-loomed Tibetan brocades, made, as they have always been, in Varanasi, the silk capital of India. Today, we are pleased to act as ambassadors, by making their work available and helping them develop items for Western Buddhists and people who appreciate Tibetan artistic traditions. We have received the support and assistance of great lamas in Asia and have established strong bonds with our best suppliers.

The relationships have been mutually rewarding. Sharchen has been able to give Western practitioners a large, varied selection of high-quality bells, dorjes, brocades and other essentials at reasonable prices. It has provided connoisseurs with a wide selection of superbly rendered thangkas (stylized Tibetan Buddhist paintings) and statues (or rupas). Meanwhile, the Tibetan and Newari artisans have been assured of appreciative customers for their goods and have therefore been able to develop their talents to great heights. These friendships have endured for decades. Today we work not only with our favorite artisans, but with their grown children, who have carried on the family skills.

By importing directly from the artisans, we can offer competitive prices on everything, including the most unique, elegant artworks. Our close relationship allows us to fill special orders and requests from students of different practice traditions as well as collectors. We can also custom-order decorations for homes and shrines from our large selection of brocade fabrics. We personally supervise these projects in order to guarantee successful outcomes.

Sharchen is a business run from our hearts. We want our customers to be fully satisfied. Should any item prove unsatisfactory, we will refund the cost or exchange the item within 30 days of its arrival. Should any defects occur after extended use, we will carry items for repair to the artisans who made them during our trips to Asia in November and April.