Nepal art and culture is unique, exotic and strongly influenced by the religious beliefs of the country. The earliest examples of Nepalese art in painting form can be traced back to manuscript illustrations found on palm leaves and the earliest known manuscript is the Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita of 1015 A.D. The wooden covers which protect the manuscript were usually more lavishly decorated than the actual manuscript.

Thangkha (Pauva) Art : Thangkas are traditional paintings depicting religious themes and deities prepared on a piece of fine cotton or silk cloth which is coated with a mixture of glue, chalk and indigo and varnished with the white of a duck’s egg mixed with water. The paintings are framed with three stripes of Chinese brocade of blue, yellow and red which represents the rainbow separating sacred objects from the material world. Images of Buddhist figures, mandala design, the wheel of life design or depiction of scenes or stories are themes frequently depicted in thangkha paintings. These paintings have generally been painted by traditional ethnic castes like the Chitrakars, Shakyas, Vajracharyas and Tibetan Lamas.

Mithila Art: Janakpur in central-south Nepal is the centre of this school of art. Maithili art is a folk painting dominated by religious themes andwomenfolk of Mithila paint the walls of their houses with pictures of different flowers and objects of socio-religious themes in bright colours. Today, this ancient art is being painted on paper as a form of prayer. Like thangkhas, Mithila art is heavily influenced by Tantric cults and their paintings are full of Tantric symbols like the Mandala in Tibetan art.

Sharma, Rashmi. Nepal and SAARC. New Delhi: Regal Publications, 2007.

Cultural Treasures of Nepal. Nepal Tourism Board.2009.

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