Nepal is a country filled with unique art and handicraft made by hand in antique designs. Beautiful paintings and statues, pottery, wood carving, architecture and some amazing textile work! Already 1600 years ago Nepal was famous in South Asia for its high quality woolen blankets, and still wonderful textiles are being woven, both in small scale factories for commercial purposes, but also in peoples’ homes for own use. The handicrafts of Nepal is produced in a traditional way, from generations to generations and this continuity has given the survival to Nepalese handicrafts, preserving their heritage, cultural values, aspects and tradition. More recently, these arts and crafts is one of the major exporting industry of Nepal, earning foreign exchange and providing employment to thousands of Nepalese craftsmen, artisans, promoters and businessmen generating revenue to government.
While in Nepal you can’t miss the detailed and time consuming art of thangka painting, popular among Buddhists in Nepal. The Thangka painting technique dates back to the 7th century or even earlier. Resligious motifs are painted on cotton canvas with mineral or organic, and today also chemical, pigments in a water-soluble medium of animal glue. Thangkas are framed with three stripes of Chinese brocade of blue, yellow and red which represent the rainbow which separates sacred objects from the material world. Frequent themes of Thangkas include images of Buddhist figures, mandala designs, the wheel of life design, or depiction of scenes or stories.
Bronze statues appeared in Kathmandu valley around 8th century and are still popular. They are made by a form of wax casting and are often contain embedded semi-precious stones. On your walks across Kathmandu you might pass the narrow streets where all the shops and factories are producing and selling beautiful objects from the shining metals, bronze, brass and copper. The products you find in the shops today vary from the ancient designed statues to beautiful traditional plates, kitchen utensils, carafes and other useful objects.
The traditional architecture of Nepal is found in the temples, stupas and other religious buildings and monuments, as well as in the old preserved houses. It is said the pagoda temple, popular in all Asia, is Nepals most famous export product. It was invented by a famous Nepalese architect named Araniko in the 13th century and is in Nepal often built in Newari architecture with bricks and dark wood with intricate carvings, sometimes of erotic character.
A more modern but equally popular form of handicraft is the felted wool items. Traditionally women in the Himalayas have felted colorful aprons but today the felted items have expanded to include pot coasters, bags and toys, among other products.
Today many of the young people of Nepal are not giving the traditional art enough appreciation and are not any more interested in following the ancestors’ old professions. That is why it is important that foreigners show how these skills are appreciated and valuable also outside of Nepal itself. Please join us for a tour among artists in Nepal to learn more about the traditional arts and crafts!