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Art & architecture
 
 

NEPAL & THE BRIEF HISTORY OF ART & ARCHITECTURE

     Handicraft items have been in human use since time immemorial. Although history of Nepalese handicraft too goes back to centuries, there is no unanimity on the exact beginning of the art. In fact, the country has something unique, which includes object made from mud to wood to brass and cupper. No piece of handicraft is devoid of inherent meaning. In fact every piece has element of culture and identity and of course religion inwrought in it. Further, it is handicraft, which has preserved the culture.

     Another feature of Nepalese handicraft items is eroticism, which can he found in carvings on struts decorating temples. Let us go back into the history. Actually, stone carving goes to Lichhavi period. Similarly, the Malla period is known for woodcarvings. Take note of carvings decorating the temples and the stupas made in the pagoda style. There had been, however a relative degree of inaction in the field during the Malla regime.

     The Art of Nepal with a few exception is based on the religious themes taken from Buddhism and Hinduism. Nepal's history of Art has been influenced since earliest times by the Newars. The renowned Artist and architect, Arniko (1245-1306 A.D.), who came from Patan, carried their craft and Artistic skillbeyond the borders of Nepal to Tibet and China as well. The Art history of Nepal is divided into five major periods.

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Pre-Licchavi Art until 200.A.D. Licchavi Art 200 to 800 The transitional period 800 to1200 Early Malla Art 1200to1400 Late Malla Art 1400 to 1768. Some terra-cotta figures from the period indicate the high - quality Artisticworkmanship was already in existence.

     The Licchavi period has left us hundreds of stone sculptures which the deep Artistic achievement and talent of the people of the time. The sculptures demonstrate not only their deep religious roots but also the harmonies and integration of the two religions. Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal. The bronze,copper and gold reached the high skill of the Licchavi craftsmen. The few excavations under taken in the Kathmandu valley have also brought to light many terra-cotta products of the Licchavi period.

     The Art of painting also played an important part in the Artistic life of the time. With the exception of a few painted wooden book cover other examples are yet to be indentified. Finely executed illustrated manuscripts and pictures on book bindings, depicting the various forms of the deities of both religions, have been preserved from the period of transition. The typical features of the paintings of the period reveal that except the central character, other figures are mostly depicted in profile. The headdresses, crowns and other ornaments are portrayed with a finer sensitivity than in the Licchavi period.

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Thangka Paintings:

     The oldest preserved Nepalese paintings date from the 10th and 11th centuries A.D. These painted manuscript covers and the various manuscript illustrations display a high level of Artistic skill. The colors have weathered the centuries well and still retain the original brilliance. The favorite colors of the Nepalese painters were yellow, white, indigo, lampblack, green and vermilion, The paints were made from plants earth and minerals. The use of natural pigments by the Nepalese continued till the 19th century. After the 13th century, many 'Paubhas' - the painted scrolls were painted and they are mostly kept in temples and shrines. They are primarily painted as objects of spiritual and religious inspiration displayed on certain occasions only.

     Another important aspect of Nepalese Art from this period are the strong influence of Tantrism sculptures. Paintings of the late Malla period are depicted with symbolic figures and emblems evidenced the strong influence of Tantrism. Tantrism displays a true religious harmony and tolerance elaborate and Artistic ornamentation. The greatest achievements of the late Malla period lie in the field of architecture. The majority of pagodas, shrines, temples, and mediavel palaces in the Kathmandu.

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Metal and Wood carvings:

     The sculptures of the transitional period can be clearly differentiated from their predecessors. Those of the transitional period are sumptuous in their detail, the stress on motion and the figures displaying a subtle grace. Few bronze sculptures discovered bear remarkable similarity of execution. The works of Art of the early Malla period discovered are mainly of stone or metal depicting numerous deities of both religions. The figures of the period take on a far more elegant form and the ornamentation. It shows the influence of Tantrism on the rise. Worship of the Sun and Moon is expressed in a variety of sculptures. Gold and bronze statues are embellished with semi precious stones.

     Taken as a whole, Nepalese Art reached its zenith during the Iate Malla period. Bronze work made remarkable progress especially because of the flourishing trade in Nepalese Art products carried on with neighboring Tibet.

     Wood-carvings, too, reached its classical peak during the late Malla period. Many intricately carved windows of the private houses, palaces, temples and the numerous tympanas in the Kathmandu valley are the fine examples of the achievements in wood works. The period also witness the count less roof struts on pagodas and other edifices, richly decorated with wood splendid carvings. This period also produced the finest Nepalese examples of paintings specially the, Paubhas painted scrolls, frescoes or the wall paintings from the late Malla period.

     In conclusion, a few comments on the Art forms in Nepal Stone Sculpture, bronze - casting, terracotta sculpture and architecture, painting & temple construction. Stone-sculpture in Nepal can be traced back to the middle of the 3rd century B.C. Bronze Casting- In ancient Nepal, the Licchavis already produced attractively decorated copper coins, bronze gargoyles with gift crocodile heads provided an unusual attraction in the royal palace.

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Gems, Jewellery & Stone Carvings:

     The Nature-graced is endowed with varieties of stones, however, their usage were traditionally confined to religious, spiritual or sooth-saying purposes. Nonetheless, their use in ornaments like necklaces, ear-rings and bangles have been old.

     Stones native to Nepal are sapphire, aquamarine, amethyst, ruby, garnet and tourmaline, among others. The varieties of stones with handiwork chiseling on them make these stone quite impressive and fascinating. Native as well as non-indigenous gems are of good quality.
 

Pashmina & Woollen Stuffs:

     Pashmina Shawls (warm woolen stuffs) made from soft, downy and warm under fur can also be purchased in great variety and color in Kathmandu.
The wool of high land rare lambs found in Nepal's snow region is famous for its smooth and warm fur. The stuffs made from the under fur of these highland lambs are of the best quality, softer and natural colored, and are expensive than the synthetic mixed and artificially colored ones.

     Tibetan wool jackets and hand knit yak or sheep (high land animals) wool sweaters are best-suiting for the trek or to take home as presents.

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