Nepalese art of different period reflects various aspects of the society in different stages of its development. Religion has played a catalytic role for the development of art and Nepalese art throughout its history cannot be seen isolation from the religion. In fact, the religious fervor has forever inspired Nepal’s artistic creations.
Nepal Art and Craft types
Wood is a less durable material, so only the description of wood art of the old age is found that are survived belong to the 15th to 18th century. The works of wood art can be divided into two group. First Portable images and second wood art which form the integral parts of temples, monasteries, palaces and public rest houses (Sattal). Decorative doors, windows, struts, and Toran or tympanums all comprise second group.
The wood art belonging to the first category portable images have kept at the National Museum of woodcraft. The images of Nrityadevi (15th century), Basundhra (15th century), Vishworup (17th century) are notable masterpiece displayed in the museum. Historical buildings, palaces and temples offer the finest and rarest examples of the artistic creations which comprise of the salient features of Nepalese works.
Struts of temples in Nepal are said to be of great artistic merits. The struts protrude from the main body of temple making a 45-degree angle and they have the function of supporting the structure of the roof. The roofs are mostly multi-tired and the upper ones are proportionately smaller than the lower ones. Almost all the struts of temple have intricately carved images.
On all four sides of the temple, there are struts with the image of an extraordinary animal called Sardula. In some temples, the struts on the four sides have the images of deities and other things related in one way or the other with main deity kept on the sanctum.
Most interesting things about the images on the struts is that struts of the main places depict the principle deity of the temple; the struts of upper part depict various scenes of the heaven and the lowest ones depict various aspects of this phenomenal world like erotic carving.
Stone sculpture in Nepal are believed to have emerged long before the birth of Christ. The stone images of Virupaksya and Parvati Tapasya which are inside the Pashupatinath Temple belong to the Kirat period before the 5th century BC. Actually, such conclusion is made on the basis of physical and formal features of the images since no inscriptions explaining the dates are found so far.
From the Licchhavi period onwards stone images with dates and other descriptions are found. The images of Vishnu Vikrant, Vishworup, Shiva linga, Uma Maheswor and other number of images were built in the period. The images of Licchhavi period can also be found ta Hanumandhoka (Kaal Bhairab), Changunarayan (Garuda Narayan) and Pashupatinath area (Vishnu Vikrant).
Another important phase of Nepalese stone sculpture during Thakuri and Malla period. The notable images of the Malla period can be found at Narsimha image at Hanuman Doka, the images of Radha and Rukmini with Krishna, a dozen of images at the Patan durbar Square, Krishna with 10 incarnations at Krishna Mandir of Patan, Surya Binayak of Bhaktapur etc.
The stone images of the different period have certain distinctive features that distinguish them from those of the earlier period. The images supposedly belonging to Kirat Period have round faces, curly hair, well developed forehead, robust body and short stature. Whereas the stone images of the Licchhavi period have long oval faces, Aryan Nose, thin dresses, Ornaments and crown on heads, and Donned hair.
However, they have a picturesque vividness and lively. The materials used for making images is also of superior quality – mostly hard blue or black stones. But, In the Thakuri and Malla period various characteristic features distinguish them from the works of the Licchhavi period. Use the relatively inferior material such as soft sand stone, Facial structure of the images is the mixture of Aryan and Mongolian features, Secular images, many artists of the period were using metal as the medium.
The history of bronze art in Nepal is not as old as that of the stone sculptures. Some coins of Licchhavi period hint that there was bronze art in the early years of Licchhavi period or even before. Some of the oldest metal images of Nepal are now exhibited in the museum of Los Angeles and Boston of the USA.
The most important among them are 9th century image of Padmapani Avalokiteswor and 7th century Buddha in a meditative pose. Two methods of making metal images were employed in the period. One is wax process and other is the method of molding thin metal sheets. Both the methods were used in making religious as well as secular images.
In this age, the style of images was design in Tantric mode with various deities with several hands and other symbolic icons. The most remarkable features of bronze arts are: Long eyes, clear and distinct eyebrows, imposing ornaments and use of gaudy colors.
The mentioned types of art and crafts also can be seen while you do historical sightseeing tour in Kathmandu valley. Actually, there are seven different world heritage sights inside Kathmandu valley listed by UNESCO (United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization). Each destination gives different perspective to analyses the fact about Nepal art and crafts.
Stone and Wooden art can be seen in specific attraction of durbar square complex inside the valley. Beautiful architectural and structure that are in and around the square area bounded with full of historical building monuments which reflect the excellent Art and crafts. Let’s plan to visit, you will have boundless opportunity to explore and learn about Nepal Art and Architectures.