Our Traditional Art

Subject: Social Studies

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Overview

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. This note contains a description of our art of painting.
Our Traditional Art

Introduction

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.

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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)

book.jpg

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)

wall.jpg

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.

Things to remember
  • 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. 
  • Nepali artifacts depict the characters and events of scriptures, Vedas, Puranas etc. 
  • Our art is our identity and it must be preserved and promoted.
  • Foreign visitors like William J. Kirkpatrick, Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, Daniel Wright, Wang Went etc, included writing about the contemporary art and culture of Nepal. 
  • 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 Our Traditional Art
9th Annual Painting Exhibition 2012 @ Nepal Art Council
Artist of Nepal, oil and water painting Nepal
Beautiful Asian Art- Buddhist Sand Art in Kathmandu Nepal
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Thangka Painting Workshop in Nepal
Questions and Answers
Nepalese art is known for its simplicity, originality and specialty. Its theme has basically been religious, particularly Hindu and Buddhists. Nepali artifacts depict the characters and events of scriptures, Vedas, Puranas, etc. Nepali artists have been greatly influenced by their religious belief and have manifested their contemporary society in their artifacts. Nepali religion contains different amazing and creative customs which influence the artists to make something based on the religion.
Parajanaparamita is a Buddhist scripture meaning 'Perfection of Wisdom'. This book painting was originally made on copper plate, palm leaf, wood etc. A 900 old copper painting, that goes with the name of 'Parajanaparamita' copied in wood surface is the oldest book painting of Nepal. The painting consists of the pictures of Pachabuddha and 5 stars on one side and the picture of Parajanaparamita, Bajrasatwa and other goddesses in the other side.

Pata painting is about 4-5 metres long. In a pata painting the picture of a god is at its centre with other deities on all sides but in a Mandala there is a sign of something, like a 'swastika' and others and the deities surround it.

There are different types of paintings found in Nepal. They are :
  • Book painting: The painting found on books are book painting. The painting was made of copper plate, palm leaf etc and consist the pictures of panchabuddha and 5 stars on one side of the picture of Parajanaparamita.
  • Scroll painting: The paintings are drawn in paper or clothes. They are divided into Mandala and Pata paintings. These paintings are very costly.
  • Wall painting: These paintings are drawn in walls. Early wall paintings coulnot be protected for various reasons. Mithila painting is one of the most refined forms of wall paintings.

Mithila painting is different from common wall painting because it consists the picture of gods and goddesses along with worldly creatures but the other common wall paintings conveyed stories of Mahabharat, Ramayan etc.

The development of Nepalese painting starts from religion. Lichchavi dynasty can be considered as the pioneer of Nepalese painting. Pragya paramita, a copper letter is the oldest repainting, which is believed to be of 10th and 11th century. Its development was in climax in 14th and 15th century. As its history, it is older than sculpture.

The source of Nepalese painting is religious belief and activities. It is directly related to gods and goddess. The pictures of different gods and goddesses, animals, birds can be seen in religious books and walls of temples and houses. Paintings can be found in different forms as wall painting, book painting, etc. in any way and it is believed that its the traditional from long history of Nepal. The picture of naag (snake) pasted on Naag Panchami is very old tradition in Nepal. The picture of cow is considered as goddess Laxmi. These are the good examples that show relationship between religion and some of our traditional pictures.
The relationship between the Nepalese culture and painting is like two sides of a coin. Our culture is represented through picture. Some cultures are based on pictures or paintings. It means some paintings represent our culture. For examples, culture of pasting Naag (snake) on Naag Panchami, culture of taking photos in festivals, culture of drawing some pictures during contest, etc. are good proofs which represent our culture. Painting of Durga on doors, windows, walls in Dashain, painting of goddess Laxmi in Tihar, Saraswoti in Saraswoti puja, etc. in various festivals are good examples which proves the good relationship between culture and paintings.
The painting on clothing is called Pauva or Thanka Painting. There are two types of painting, Patta and Mandala. As regarding Patta, there will be main deity at the centre and other deities at the sides. The Pauva painting in Nepal started in eleventh century.

The oldest book painting in the ancient time was painted in copper or paper. Pragya Paramita is the oldest book painting till the date. But these days, it is painted in paper.

The painting on the wall of the house, temples, gumbas, etc. is called wall painting. Such paintings are painted to avoid the effect of ghost and any bad evils. The paintings of gods and goddesses have been the tradition of the Nepalese people.

The masterpiece model of painting is Mithila painting. It is common in central Terai. It is also called Madhuwani painting. It is believed that it was started from Madhuwani of India. Now, it has been common in Mithila zone.

Nepalese painting is unique and original as suitable as our climate and culture. Although there has been the tradition of painting for a long history, its development is still crawling. To uplift its status, the following things are suggested:
  • There should be preservation of the old paintings.
  • Different painting contests should be held so there can be the participation of all and interest could be increased.
  • There should be inclusive form programmes to participate old, young women, backward.
  • There should be compulsory schooling/education in painting, etc.
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