Why Nepalese Crafts
Arts and crafts in Nepal
Nepalese art and craft reflect the religious themes of Hinduism, Buddhism, and certain location specific depictions. The cultural history of Nepalese art are traditionally divided into five major periods:Pre-Licchavi, Licchavi, transitional, early Malla (Newar), and late Malla (Newar) periods. Most of the existing craftsmen are Newars. Various kinds of work are done in nepal in case of arts. Stone carving, wood carving, metal carving, statues, paintings etc are some of the kind found abundantly in nepal. The arts and crafts has been famous since Malla period as it has its own style then. It is also known as the golden era. The art and crafts of nepal is also the major source of attraction for large number of tourists. Many crafts are sold but the art with historical importance are not sold they are regarded as national property. Business of such arts and crafts is regarded as crime. Arts and crafts of Nepal are its heritage and are taken great care of it.
Since the seventh century the metal work has been famous in Nepal. The prosperity of the valley during those times was indicated by its mastery over metal. The Newars were the one to use the unique lost wax metal sculpting process early on. They also had the technology to attain heat levels that could melt gold: this earned them great fame and money in the Himalayan region, particularly Tibet. In those days such technologies were regarded as family secrets and were guarded. But, now they are more easily accessible and this has helped many aspiring artisans who do not have a family line to fall back on access chemical recipes and trade secrets. In initial days bronze was used to make statues but copper has replaced it in terms of popular use among artisans. The many workshops and stores have created a vast pool of metal art for buyers to choose from. The locations well known for hand-worked metal art are Patan, Chainpur, Palpa, and Bhojpur (the latter three are also known for fine kitchen utensils).
It is believed that the earliest forms of Nepal’s traditional paintings were derived from Holy Scriptures out of what is now India. The initial phase of the paintings in Nepal is dated back to 11th century. The oldest surviving painting of Nepal is of a vihara which was painted during the transitional period of 1015. These paintings have developed strict guidelines as to how they can be created and have been in place for hundreds of years. It is said that when the Lord Gautam Buddha started aging, his disciples worried that over the years artists would draw his face in many different ways. In order to assure that his features would not be distorted one of them measured precisely the face of the Buddha and wrote them down. He mixed an exact herbal combination to attain the color of his skin. Painting has been regarded as the means for the monks to express their feelings, strengths and wisdom that would come after their meditations in the caves. Tibetan thangkas and Newari paubhas are still among the most appreciated art styles of Nepal and also generates a huge market in international level.
Forests were regarded as the wealth of Nepal in the past days. Thus wood was found abundantly and with that it was also the integral part of the Nepalese traditional culture and architecture. Huge amount of wood work was done back in Licchavi period during ninth century. Most of the woodcarvings that have survived throughout Nepal around temples and other heritage sites are from the thirteenth to eighteenth century Malla period. Clans of Newars, the 'old people' of Kathmandu, have been working with wood for generations. Different houses of ancient time in many places in Nepal also consist of artistic windows and doors made of wood. They also produced statues and also other work of art from wood. The wood work of Nepal still earns a great market in international level. Restorations in traditional styles are ongoing and there has been a surge in traditional style buildings. Scholars believe that wooden windows, struts, and other carvings have seen the least influence from outside countries thus the art work is the creative work of Nepalese themselves.
The history of Nepal dates centuries back and the oldest stone image of first century AD proves that. The image is of Yaksha Bodhisattva. The techniques and tools used then need high skills thus is used by highly skilled and capable artisans only in these days. A surge in the involvement of youth, particularly the Tamangs and the Newars has assured that the art of traditional stone carving will survive and even grow better over time. This rare art had nearly extinct due to the problems with stone quarries and lack of interest among the Nepalese rulers due to the heavy and hard-to-move nature of stone. It is regarded that a farmer named balbala during the reign of King Brishadev made a self portray of him who earned a great fame then and also paved the first milestone for the development of stone art in Nepal. The craftsmen of the Licchavi period were highly gifted in their profession. Among all the traditional art forms of Nepal, they have, without a doubt, showed their greatest workmanship in stone carving. Nepal when was divided in three kingdoms that is Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kirtipur the kings then had a great competition in order to show off the best architecture. They in fear of other kingdom copying the art used to cut off the hand of the artisan. The competition thus gave rise to maximum number of stone art in Nepal.
The weavings of Nepal is also popular worldwide due to its use of natural fabric and laborious hand work.For centuries, the mountain people of Nepal have had to depend on the fabric they wove for warmth, for easy travel, and for survival. In many high mountain areas and semi-tropical jungles, they continue to weave what they wear. The art of weaving yak wool, sheep wool, or vegetable products by hand has been practiced throughout the country remains popular today as its rugged conditions have not changed. Hill women's dhaka shawls and the men's topi caps are handmade. Nepalese Tibetan rugs, radi floorings, straw mats, and pashmina shawls are some weaving traditions that the visitor may observe in Nepal. Bhaktapur women wove their own saris, the Sherpas of the high Himalayas weave beautifully patterned cloth to go with their bakkhus.