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Art of Nepal

Nepal Art is unique, exotic and enchanting. Nepalese expressions of art, classical and modern style, are embedded in the daily practice of religion. Craftsmanship is most easily found in temples, architecture, shrines, fountains and the designs of religious objects.

Art Galleries and Museums in Nepal
It is this thriving milieu that makes a visit to the art galleries of Kathmandu a pleasurable and rewarding prospect. A list of famous museums and galleries are presented below which should serve as a preliminary guide to the visitors.

Name Location
The Natural History Museum Kathmandu
The National Library Lalitpur (Patan)
Patan Museum Lalitpur (Patan)
Nepal Art Council Gallery Near Tribhuvan International Airport

Major forms of Art in Nepal
The real architecture of Nepal is found in the Nepal Temples, stupas and other religious buildings and monuments. Nepal Temples are usually one of three types; pagodas, shikaras or stupas. Stupas are exclusively a Buddhist temple, but pagodas and shikaras may be Hindu or Buddhist. Buddhist temples are almost always surrounded by a wall with a defined entrance way. A wall of prayer wheels often surrounds the temple. Whether Hindu or Buddhist, these temples are not places of religious gatherings popular within Christianity and Muslim religions but are sites of individual worship.

Pottery flourishes in Patan and Thimi, a locality near Bhaktapur. Common forms of pottery are terra cotta oil lamps used to light homes during the festival Dipawali, and flower pots decorated with peacocks and elephants.

Thangkas, a more predominant form of painting, are popular among Buddhists in Nepal as well as in Tibet and date back to the late 14th century. These paintings on cotton are rectangular in shape and usually longer than they are wide. They are framed with three stripes of Chinese brocade of blue, yellow and red which represent the rainbow which separates sacred objects from the material world. Older Thangkas consisted of mineral-based colors, while current Thangkas are produced with vegetable-based or chemical colors. Frequent themes of Thangkas include images of Buddhist figures, mandala designs, the wheel of life design, or depiction of scenes or stories.

Bronze figures
Bronze figures, sometimes alloyed with copper, appeared in the valley around 8th century AD. These images usually represented religious deities or legendary figures. The most frequently used production technique is that of cire perdue, a form of wax casting. Images often contain embedded semi-precious stones, usually coral or turquoise, or are gilded with gold.

Galleries and Museums
The Natural History Museum
Located in the western end of Kathmandu and a few minutes walk down from the famous Swayambhunath Stupa, the National museum has a large collection of weapons, art and antiquities of historic and cultural importance. Initially built as a collection house of war trophies and weapons, the museum has an extra-ordinary collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century weapons, firearms locally made and captured from the various wars, leather canons and relics of natural calamities like great earthquake of 1934. In addition, the museum is the unique treasure house of medieval and modern works in wood, metal and bronze, stoneworks and the paintings.

The Natural History Museum
Situated at the southern foothills of Swayambhunath, the museum is a window to the natural history of Nepal. The museum has a sizeable collection of different species of animals, butterflies and plants. The special feature of this museum is a serial display of diverse life from prehistoric shells to the stuffed animals, birds, crocodiles and many other interesting exhibits. It is open on all the weekdays except Saturdays and government holidays.

Patan Museum
Located in the palace complex of Patan Durbar Square, the Patan Museum is a house to some of the unique medieval works in bronze. The earliest specimens date back to 11th century or even earlier Lichhavi period. Most of the exhibits are deities from the Buddhist pantheon like images of Buddhas and Lokeswore. And in the lesser number, there are icons from Hindu pantheon like Vishnu and other deities.

Nepal Art Council Gallery
Situated in Babar Mahal- on the way to Tribhuvan International Airport, the Gallery has an excellent space area for exhibitions. The gallery holds exhibitions of paintings and sculptures. The gallery is noted for the display of works of selected artists of the country and abroad.
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