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 This book painting was originally made on copper plate, palm leaf, wood etc.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.
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.
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.
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.