Learn about traditional crafts of Nepal
Once you have been in Nepal, you cannot deny the astute and affluent culture and tradition bestowed from generations to generations. These are the ancestral treasure that exhibits the rich and defined period of our forebearers.
“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness”-the palatial architecture carved in the historical feats are the window that lets us peek in the grandeur of traditional art and craft of Nepal.
Being the capital and the historical city of Nepal, Kathmandu acts as a proxy of a whole country’s culture. As Kathmandu is the obvious visit for the tourists of Nepal, where the intricate architectural features in the monuments intrigue and interest every dweller; well, going beyond the admiration, you can learn about the traditional crafts of Nepal.
TRADITIONAL ART AND CRAFT OF NEPAL IN THE VALLEY
As fascinating it is to hear the riveting history of Nepal, the art and craft handed-down from the same historical period hasn’t failed to impress too. The array of different monuments like palaces and temples acts as a mirror to the splendid architectural period that Nepal witnessed, and it still lives through the dedicated and art-loving hands of a skilled craftsman.
Araniko, the famous artist of the late 12th century from Kathmandu Valley, is the key figure in Chinese architectural history as he introduced the pagoda style in China, for the first time. It was he, who built the famous White Stupa at the Miaoying Temple. Well, it is one example on the history of talented craftsmen of Nepal.
Some of the famous Nepali art and craft products are Khukuri, thangka, Mithila wall art, bamboo products, Hindu and Buddhist statues, carpets, and Tibetan Handicrafts. These products are inspired by various styles of craft.
The excellent woodcraft architecture can be observed in the several monuments around the valley; however, the knowledge of traditional art and craft of Nepal in wood is dissipating, taken over by the modern architecture. Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, and Bungmati are of the best place to observe the traditional woodcraft.
Of several examples of woodcraft, the Peacock window at the Dattatreya Square showcases the sheer beauty of ancient handiwork. Right in the Wood Carving Museum of Bhaktapur lies many terrific woodcraft examples, like the statue of Manjushree of 16th century, a three-foot statue of Bhairab, Goddess Nartaki Devi of 15th century, and life-size woodcarving of Jagannath and his brother Balaram.
Not just statues, but the windows, pillar, and cornices in the courtyard of Bhaktapur Durbar Square depict the sublime woodwork.
Silver is considered a sacred metal like gold and is popularly used for making idols and status with intricacy. They are usually made for the sake of decoration or jewelry. This craft has largely interested the visitors of Nepal for its unique design of various Hindu god and goddess followed by a detailed craving.
When the first batch of the visitors were brought in the valley by Boris Lissanevitch, they were astonished by the incredible metalcraft in Royal Hotel. With the civilization dating back to centuries, the medieval city of Kathmandu holds exceptional metal craft showcased throughout the valley, especially in three Durbar Squares and several temples and stupas.
However, Patan stands-out as the center of metal craft, not to mention the Patan handicrafts. It is a widely used material in Nepal for statutes, sculptures and idols. As metalcraft is the traditional art and craft of Nepal, still traditional techniques of hammering and hand-casting are used.
In the present, through this technique, traditional wares like singing bowls, utensils, bells, cymbals and brass and copper kitchen wares are made. Also, Buddha statues and Khukuri are some other excellent example of metalcraft.
The use of bamboo is throughout the country, from making household items to house itself; yes, you heard it right, in rural Terai, there are abundance number of houses from bamboo. Nanglo, a flat and circular bamboo tray for winnowing; doko, a bamboo basket to transport goods are some popular products widely used throughout Nepal. Not just it, during ancient time, Kirantis of eastern Nepal used to keep the letter in bamboo cases itself.
Now, bamboo handicraft has developed and used for making decorative objects like pen stands, lamps, miniature, sofa, table and so on, which they are loved very much by tourists; well, this shows how popular are traditional handicraft and furnishing in Nepal.
Nepal lacks no historical feats constructed by various rulers over the centuries. It is said that during ancient time, a competition between artisans of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur always existed; no wonder today they hold greatest architectural monuments and art collections of Nepal.
Of various traditional art and craft of Nepal, stonecraft is believed to be founded during the reign of King Vrishdeva of Licchavi era, when a farmer named Balbala created a self-portrait in stone of the first time. It gained wide recognition, and his name found its way to the ear of the King, and thus, stonecraft was established with Balbala as the founder.
There are several small monuments from stonecraft like water taps, stone spouts, lions and griffins around temples and stupas and chaityas. However, some prominent examples of the traditional craft of Nepal of stonecraft are idols at Swayambhunath, Changu Narayan Temple, a statue of supine Vishu at Budhanilkantha, ruins of a temple in Murtiya near Janakpur, works in Palanchowk Bhagwati Temple, and statues of Simarungadh.
Now that everything is being redefined, ceramics can be termed as the modern version of traditional clay handicraft. What distinguishes ceramic crafts from traditional one are the glazing and coloring process. Traditional clay handicraft dates back to centuries; however, through ceramics craft, it has found resurrection.
Ceramic craft is only two-decade-old, and yet, its heightened popularity has already identified it as Nepali handicrafts in Kathmandu. You can clearly observe the ceramic handicraft in Bhaktapur and Thimi, which has taken a form of sustainable business.
Ceramic products in Nepal goes through the traditional way of manufacturing. After the filtered plastic clay is brought in bulk from western valleys like Dang, they are given different shapes with spinning wheels. Then, they are left for sun-dry and fired in downdraft kiln. Now, they are glazed using different colored chemicals and fired again to give a final glaze. As already attractive and elegant they are, it has been proven scientifically too, that food eaten in ceramic plates is good for health and enhances digestion.
WHERE TO GET HANDICRAFT TRAINING IN NEPAL?
If you are interested in learning more about traditional crafts of Nepal, then while in Kathmandu, you might consider taking handicraft training in Nepal as the classes go for only an hour and two. As there is a popular saying, “An artist never dies, his art keeps him alive,” you can learn the skills and keep on refining it through constant practice.
Right in Thamel and several locations within Kathmandu City, you can take classes on traditional crafts in Nepal. Of wide option of different types of crafts, select the one you are interested in and have an insight into rich traditional art and culture of Nepal.
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