Nepali art

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Nepali art

Nepali art: In Nepal, art is traditional and largely religious in nature, with Hindu and Buddhist imagery dominant. As in India, artists were part of a guild structure; the discovery of several artists' sketchbooks has shed fascinating light on the process of imagery. Nepali sculpture primarily depicts figures of deities. Although Nepali painting is also generally religious in content, many paintings integrate historical events, portraiture, cosmological diagrams, and astrological charts as well. Deities are depicted according to instructions contained in dhyana texts, so that worshipers and artists are able to visualize them more accurately. The cult of Bhairava, which is devoted to the worship of Shiva, has influenced much of the imagery in Nepali art. Nepali architecture is noted for its palaces, although the wood and brick composition of many structures in the Himalayan valley has left few pre-16th-century buildings extant. An important early Vishnu Temple is at Changu Narayan. For much of Nepal's history, its art was molded according to Indian forms and archetypes; the Gupta and Pala styles showed a perfection of technique. In the 19th cent., Nepali artists discovered the rajput and mughal styles, which resulted in an ongoing exchange of artistic theories with Tibet. See Indian art and architecture.

See studies by P. Pal (1974 and 1985).

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