Arts and Crafts of Nepal

Nepali art and Craft ideas – Most Nepali art is worked in stone, metal, wood or terracotta. Compared to other art forms, there is very little painting in the history of the country’s art, but the fine, filigree detail of Nepali sculptures, in these four materials, is as delicate as any brushstroke. Nepali woodcarving belongs to a long and noble tradition. A few moments gazing at the wood carvings on the struts of temple roofs.

The frames of windows in the Durbar Squares of Kathmandu, Patan or Bhaktapur. It is enough to make you realize that the Newar artisans who produced then were in a league of their own.

Nowadays you can buy miniatures of such work – no match for the originals popular souvenir. The best place to shop for wood carvings in Bhaktapur, particularly in Dattatreya Square. There you will also find the National Woodcarving Museum.

Nepalese arts and crafts

Nepalese arts and crafts

In Kathmandu’s Durbar square and in tourist areas such as Thamel, itinerant peddlers carrying “flute trees” are a common sight. For those who seek a greater musical challenge, the sarangi is a bowed fiddle-like instrument.

The earliest expression is Buddhist, dating from about the third century BC. Its surviving examples are four stupas in Patan, Kathmandu and the Ashoka pillar at Lumbini.

Nepali art reached a zenith in the Lichavi dynasty. Working in stone, local artists learned all that they could from India’s Gupta, Deccan and Pala schools of art. These the refined and presented in indigenous creations with distinctive Nepali features.

They also began to work in a variety of metals, producing incredibly wrought bronzes of mythical and religious figures. Some of their 1,500-year-old works, exquisite in their detail and imagery, still survive in Kathmandu valley.

Nepali Arts and Crafts

Nepali Arts and Crafts

The metallic sculptures of Tara, Vajrapani, Maitreya, Umamaheshwara and the Buddha are among the most illustrious, both for their style and their antiquity.

More recent examples of Nepali metal work exist in the hollow cast statues of kings and queen, in the gilded sculpted doors and in other artifacts of the ancient art cities of Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.

Tibetan bronzes are notable for the holes set in them for paper prayers, mantras, botive offering of grain and precious stones, or for religious icons.

Puppets and masks make good gifts for adults and children alike. Thimi is a particularly good place to look for papier-mache masks. The masks are usually depictions of Ganesh, Kumari or Bhairav, and are used in festive masked dances. Read some facts about Nepalese Handicrafts.

Where to Buy Nepali Arts and Crafts

When buying puppets and Nepali Modern Art, check that the heads are made of papier-mache rather than clay – the latter is liable to break in transit.

Bhaktapur is a good hunting ground for puppets, particularly the woodcarving shops of Durbar square. Bhaktapur is also the place to seek out the block-printed handmade paper. It is perfect for wrapping an unusual gift.

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