Nepal’s artistic heritage is throughout informed and inspired by spiritual reflection on the human experience and our interrelationship with Nature, and Eternity. The People of Nepal are, to their great credit and renown, in their most important day to day thoughts and activities influenced by this ancient tradition of inspiration by the spiritual. This most commonly takes place through the sphere of religious devotion that is expressed in myriad ways through the arts and creativity, as witnessed by reverence and acts of devotion to Biswakarma, through the Newari ‘Living Goddess’ Kumari, and the Gai Jatra Festival. More details about the Living Goddess Kumari are included in the Articles: Literature section, below.
Nepali Religious Art:
The People of Nepal are uniquely privileged in their land preserving in flourishing ways ancient yet timeless forms of religions that have and continue to influence the lives of hundreds of millions across southern and eastern Asia.
The Arts, and reverence for Creativity in its many forms — through religious festivals [Nepal is unique in the world in having more religious and cultural festivals than there are days in the year!]; temple statuary & icons; story-telling ancient scriptures-based traditions; architecture, music and visual and performing arts — and creative self-expression influenced by reverence for the spiritual, constitute the heart of the People of Nepal, irrespective of form of religion, or whether or not following any formal religion.
Of all parts of the world, Nepal has the honour, for those Western people seeking spiritual fulfillment and learning, that is not perceived to be any longer available in contemporary Western religious religious cultures — of dogmatic and exclusivist kinds — in being The Spiritual epicentre of Asia. Nepal retains ancient Vedic and ancient Hindu forms of religion, religious devotion and related spiritual philosophies. Theravada Buddhism (the original and ancient form of Buddhism) continues and thrives in Nepal, which also is home to Tantric Buddhism [‘Vajrayana] and Tantric Hinduism. In regard to both, almost all followers and worshipers are at ease in enjoying and respectfully and reverentially each others beliefs, since there are substantial interconnections between the two.
Forms & arts media of religious and devotional arts:
These span from temple architecture, sculture and woodcarving, through to religious festival costume and related make-up, phography (see image above displayed outside of a Kathmandu shop, of Kumari ‘The Living Goddess’), and visual artforms such as Thanka and Paubha painting and Mithila art in its numerous forms, and devotional music. In addition to these can be included the beautiful and striking painting of many lorries in Nepal, that display images of deities and related symbols and motifs, and also too murals of the kind particularly renowned in Mithila art.
Paubha painting is reputed to be Nepal’s most unique traditional visual art, and is based on religious and spiritual concepts of ancient kinds, yet vibrant in the Nepal of the early 21st century:
‘… “Paubha” the traditional art of Nepal is believed to have been practiced from time immemorial. Due to the lack of documentary evidences it has become difficult to pin point exactly since when and how the painting was practiced and originated in the valley. The word “Paubha” is derived from a Sanskrit word Patrabhattarak. This means depiction of god and goddesses on a flat form …
… “Paubha” is always painted for a spiritual reason and the painting process embraces painter’s spiritual contemplation and guidance from learned master (Bajracharya priest). Therefore, the “Paubha” painters are advised to work in a quiet and secluded environment without outwardly disturbances accompanied by his master (Sadhaka). … read more.
Article by Renuka Gurung
Source: Artsof Nepal.com website
Articles: Visual Arts
Article by NIAP Nepali literature team technical advisor Saurabh Baral, on the Lord Ganesha
A Short History of Sanskrit Buddhist Manuscripts ….. read more.
New Spotlight News Magazine article ‘The Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal’ by Dr Bipin Adhikari …. read more.
Open Library resource: Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal …. read more.
Rashmila demystifies Kumari myths …. read more.
Getting to Know the Kumaris …. read more.