Historical Studies

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Historiography is a method of recording history as a research project. On the basis of originality, Historiography is categorized into: Primary sources and Secondary sources. This note contains description on history and historiography of Nepal.
Historical Studies

Historiography is a method of recording history as a research project. By studying history we learn about the past and prospect for the future. We are ignorant about many aspects of the past because of lack of records due to the loss of such records. History of a certain place in constructed with the utilization of various non-written sources like remains, buildings, artefacts, coins, statues, clothing and songs and written ones like records, diaries, newspapers and treaties. On the basis of their originality these are sources categorized into two as:

Primary sources


Primary sources take us closer to the events. They include the first-hand operation of the events happening in one's contemporary time. Using these sources as an eyewitness, historians record in special circumstances what they see, feel and experience. For the volume of their writing historians cannot rely more on these sources because they have very few opportunities, but on the secondary ones which are more commonly found.

Secondary sources


Secondary sources include the remains, artefacts, records, diaries, journals, etc. These sources are less reliable because they may be biased, mistaken or fragmented; still very important to record the events of the distant past. History in prepared in this method after a comparative study of the indications given by these sources. So historians have to be critical of the evidence provided by these secondary sources.

And on the basis of their nature, these sources can be classified as follows:

Sources Of History
Written Sources Non-written Sources Artefacts and other archeological objects
  • Genealogy
  • Chronicles
  • Inscriptions, bills, vouchers
  • Manuscripts
  • Travel accounts
  • Biography
  • Books
  • Diaries
  • Reports
  • Court records
  • Maps
  • Legends
  • Folk songs
  • Stories, saying (quotations)
  • Interviews
  • Counsels/preachments
  • Paintings
  • Images
  • Buildings, temples and other constructions
  • Forts
  • Weapons, utensils
  • Costumes and jewellery
  • Remains
  • Graveyards
  • Burial grounds
  • Fossils
  • Cultivated lands

Recording Nepalese History


Ancient Nepalese history in drawn from the legendary and religious sources. Nepal is believed to be sacred land of Hindus and Buddhists. It remained the birthplace of Gautam buddha and an area where various monks such as Manjushree spent their times. Many valuable sources of Nepalese history have been lost the history. Recorded history of Nepal begins later with Mandev's initiative for recording events in various inscriptions. 'An Account of the Kingdom of Nepal' prepared in 1793 by an Englishman William J. Kirkpatrick is considered in the first book of Nepalese history while Ambika Prasad Upadhaya wrote the first history book in Nepali in 1929. Baburam Acharya, known as 'itihas shiromani' ( a gem in history), contributed most to this field.

The following sources have been utilized in the preparation of Nepal's history.

1. Non-Written sources

a. Archaeological objects:
    1. Inscriptions: inscription.jpgInscriptions are very important sources of the ancient and medieval history of Nepal. Inscriptions on stone, metals, and palm leaves are found in different parts of the country. King Mandeva's inscriptions in Changunarayan are oldest in Nepal. Inscriptions furnish important details about the contemporary political structures and events, motives of the rulers, their achievements, reforms, socioeconomic lifestyle.


    1. Coins: Coins carry the names of respective rulers and some other details that give indications to their nature and power, economic condition, etc. King Mandeva's Mananka, the first coin of Nepal indicates the power and courage of the king as depicted by a lion. The coin also mentions 'Shree Bhogini', the name of his wife.
    1. Artefacts:nyatapola.jpg Various kinds of art objects such as paintings, images, temples and monasteries available in different parts of the country depict the contemporary society in one way or another. Magnificent buildings like Managriha, Kailashkut Bhawan and Bhadra Diwas and grand images like that of Budhanilkantha, Tribikram, Garud , as well as the temples like Nyatapola, Krishna Mandir and Taleju help us to decipher the political, economic, social, cultural and religious conditions of various periods.
b. Oral sources:

Historical information also passes from one generation to another through oral sources. Songs, legends, stories, veergathas tell us about the past events and characters. Similarly conversational statements from various dignitaries have remained important for recording our history.

2. Written sources

  1. Genealogies and chronicles: Records showing family roots of kings, castes, classes etc along with the important events connected with these people are important sources of our history. Gopalraj, Bhanshawali, Gorakha Banshawali are among the important early chronic preserved in Nepal.
  2. Epics: Skanda Puran, Swayambhu Puran, Himwatkhanda Nepal Mahatmya etc tell us about the origin and lifestyle of the Nepalese people in ancient times.
  3. Historical documents: Documents of historical importance like gazette, treaties and court verdicts also help us to prepare our history. King Prithvi Narayan Shah's divine Counsels, Sugauli Treaty, Delhi comprise etc have also collected information.
  4. Manuscripts: Handwritten documents by the Nepalese and foreigners about Nepal are also valuable sources.
  5. Foreign accounts: Foreign missionaries, travellers, historians and anthropologists wrote experiences memoirs and information about Nepal. Indian diplomat Chanakya, Chinese traveller Yuan Chang and European missionaries such as Father Decideri, Father Dorvil, Father Grover as missionaries such as Father Decideri etc visited Nepal and recorded information which in a valuable source of Nepal's history.
Things to remember
  • History in the chronological account of the past events, Historiography is a method of recording history as a research project.
  • On the basis of originality, Historiography is  categorized into Primary sources and Secondary sources
  • The sources that have been utilized in the preparation of Nepal’s history are: Non-Written sources and Archaeological objects
  • It includes every relationship which established among the people.
  • There can be more than one community in a society. Community smaller than society.
  • It is a network of social relationships which cannot see or touched.
  • common interests and common objectives are not necessary for society.
Videos for Historical Studies
Greater Nepal: Our History - Past Present and Future
Historical sources Power point
History: what is it for?
Nepal moves to protect artefacts from thieves
Questions and Answers

History as a subject is very important because history is related to our past and is about our ancestors and their contribution for the country. Learning history in class not only makes the student acknowledge about their country but also make them know the past and prospect for the future.

The difference between primary sources and secondary sources of the historiography are:
Primary sources Secondary sources
Primary sources include the firsthand observation of events happening in one' contemporary time. Secondary sources include the remains, artifacts, records, diaries, journals, etc.
These sources are reliable as they are eyewitnesses. These sources are less reliable as they may be biased, mistaken or fragmented.
Primary sources have very less information. Secondary sources have more information as they are made by comparative study of the indications given by sources.

Epics and diaries can be important source of historiography as epics and the diary writers have eye witnessed the events and incidents and stored the information in the diary or as a puran.

If the information is taken from the stone, wooden, copper, silver and gold carvings, it is known as inscription sources.

I think archeological source is the most important because the weakness of other sources like literary source and foreign accounts can be verified with this source. Moreover, this source does not contain any ambiguity.

History is description of human activities, civilization and many more events happened in the past along with the date and year. According to the situation, it can be divided into types. They are
  • Primary sources: Those events, which are witnessed by a person on the spot and are described categorically and impartially, are known as primary sources.
  • Secondary sources: Description based on facts but there is no eyewitness rather other supplementary or printed sources. Again on the basis of their nature these collected sources can be categorized in three parts:
  • Written sources: Writings, geology, biology, inscriptions, manuscript, books, coins, travel accounts, decorations, bills, etc.
  • Verbal sources: Folk songs, legends, tales, stories, interviews, proverbs, sayings, statements, etc.
  • Archeological sources: Paintings, monuments like temples, idols, buildings, statues, sculptures, pottery, metals etc.

If I was given the responsibilities to explore or write a history, I will use all the three sources of history. They are written, verbal and archeological.
I will go to library and museum to explore or write about written sources of history. I will conduct an interview with some old people, historians to search about verbal sources of history. Similarly, for searching archeological sources, I will visit the temple, historical buildings, and other museums.

Bhagwan Lal Indraji, Baburam Acharya, Hem Raj Pandey, Nayanraj Pant, Yogi Narahari Nath, D.R.regmi, Surya V. Gwawali, Dhana B. Bajracharya, Lain S. Bangdel and Satya Mohan Joshi have contributed much to draw up the history of Nepal by visiting, researching, carrying different sources and writing.

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