Wood Carving

Legend has it that the name of the city, Kathmandu, is derived from the Kasthamandap, the oldest known wooden temple built during Lichhavi, which was then formed by two words, Kastha means (wood) and mandon (temple). In Nepal, woodcraft flourished during the Malla period (1482- 1768). Newari architecture in the Kathmandu has a great significance in its story telling. The birth of the Newar style of architecture arose from the technical and organisational skills of Newar society, considered to have originated in the Kathmandu Valley and from which the style got its name. From its origins, this society, present on a large scale in and around the Valley, created sculptural and architectonic works of high quality. The types of clay used, the types of bricks produced, the way they are integrated into buildings with resulting improvements comes from the knowledge acquired through the many aesthetics of the surrounding. Aesthetic appearance varies according to the type of carvings in each construction element. Another important area of wood technology is in the construction of doors and windows, two elements that also contribute to giving the Newar architecture its recognisable style.

Newari windows display the magnificent blend of Newari culture: the fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism. The beauty lies not only in the wood and bricks used, and in their proportion, rather the real beauty lies with the time it was built in for the kind of life it was built for. Every element bears cultural significances linked with their material and spiritual life. From materialistic aspect, human comfort, protection and security. Unlike other forms of art in Nepal, woodcarving is not confined within the boundaries of religious iconographic injunction. The art in wood often depicts the scenes taken from daily lives, flora and fauna, or at times, even from the artist’s imagination.  Tourists were lured to take back pieces of Nepali art as souvenirs. This revived the artists and redeveloped the art buried within. Replicas and miniatures of windows, doors and statues were made and the art of Nepal started to spread all over the world. Traditional woodcarvings are being incorporated in modern interiors of contemporary Nepali homes. The occupation now has gone beyond the monopoly of the ‘Newars’, with many young men and women of different caste and culture embracing the wood art as their occupation. Hence, the Newari design styles are timeless, the classic Newari architectures has seen a rebirth. Nostalgia for the bygone, the architecture of these Newari carvings becomes an icon. Not just a replica, but reinterpretations of what we could achieve with a little spark of ingenuity and a reflection of its history.