PGD in Traditional Nepalese Art


Art is the expression of creative mind. It not only reflects the creativity of the artist but also environment and situations where the artist lives. So it has a reflection of the overall lifestyle of the contemporary society. Nepalese art is renowned for its simplicity, originality, and specialty. Its theme has basically been religious, particularly Hindu and Buddhist. Nepali artifacts depict the characters and events of scriptures, Vedas, Puranas etc. Nepali artists have always become creative individuals and, more or less, Theologists/devotees. Their art has been directed more by spiritual elements rather than the realistic ones. The world is depicted as viewed by the artist’s spiritual eyes. Essentially they have used locally available raw materials like wood, stone, metals, clay, colors etc. Nepali art and culture have influenced lifestyle of neighbors too. Our art is our identity and it must be preserved and promoted.

Sources of Information

Nepal has remained a land of ancient civilization. Its art and culture have come a long way. But our early artifacts have not been preserved. Very little is known about the art and culture of the pre-Lichhavi period. Our art could be preserved only with the rise of Lichhavi King Mandeva, the first historical king of the country, who started keeping recorded history. The following are the major sources of information about art and culture. They are equally important sources of history as well.

  1. Artifacts: The art objects speak many details about themselves.
  2. Inscriptions: Inscriptions on stone, wall, metals, etc recorded historical events.
  3. Foreigner’s accounts: Foreign visitors like William J. Kirkpatrick, Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, Daniel Wright, Wang Went etc, included writing about the contemporary art and culture of Nepal.
  4. Manuscripts: Many Hindu and Buddhist manuscript contain pictures and information.

Art of Painting

The art of painting is the art or work of using paint on surfaces. Nepali art of painting is highly based on religion. It is supposed to have begun during the Lichhavi period. It was followed by sculptures. We have I Nepal three main categories of paintings- book painting, scroll painting, and wall painting.

Book painting:(Grantha Chitra)

The oldest book painting of Nepal has been found in religious books. Originally they were made on a copper plate, palm leaf, wood, etc. A 900-year old copper in the wooden surface is the oldest painting of Nepal. The painting consists of the picture of Pancha Buddha and 5 stars on one side and the pictures of Prajnaparamita, Bajrasawta and other goddesses on the other side.

Scroll painting:(Pauwa Chitra)

Scroll paintings are drawn on paper or clothes. A scroll painting is called thangka in Nepal, pauwa or pauva in Tibet and thangka in Europe and west. The oldest scroll paintings found in Nepal date back to 11th century. Scroll painting drawn virtually on clothes can be folded, carried and stored. These paintings are further divided into two kinds- Mandala and Pata.

Wall painting:(Bhitte Chitra)

Available wall paintings of Nepal donate date back to the pre-Lichchhavi period. Every wall painting could not be protected for various reasons. Frequent renovation and repair works on temples, monasteries and palaces certainly led to the loss of the original paintings of them. Like other paintings, wall paintings have religious themes. King Jitamitra Malla and Bhupitindra Malla kept many walls painting in their decorative chowks. King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kantipur did the same. Huge wall painting is still found in Pashupati and Jaya Bageshwari. Stories of Ramayan, Mahabharat, Jatak, etc are commonly portrayed. Mithila painting is one of the most refined forms of wall painting.