Most Nepali Painting is of a religious nature and has existed since the ascendancy of the Lichhavi dynasty in the fourth century. The earliest surviving specimens, however, in the form of illustrated manuscripts, date back only to the eleventh century. These manuscripts were produced in Buddhist monasteries and, together with Thangkas – a form of painting that features favorite gods and lesser deities and is inevitably subdued in form and color- represent the major form of painting in Nepal.
In recent years the government has asked donor nations and UNESCO to help in the restoration and preservation of Nepal’s artworks.
It has been estimated that at least half of Kathmandu’s most priceless works from the last 2,000 years have been lost in the 40 years since Nepal opened its borders to the rest of the world, much of it spirited away in a vacuum of control by ruthless middlemen and art dealers acting on behalf of wealthy art collectors and museums in the West, thus robbing Nepal of its artistic treasures.
Out of the country’s 200 most valuable paintings – all more than one thousand years old -, only three still remain in Nepal.