Strolling around the temples and the ancient palaces of Kathmandu valley, during dusk is one of my favorite habits. It’s not just that these places radiate a sense of serenity but the neighborhood filled with the antique shop full of Nepalese handicrafts and the temples with fabulous wood carving make my time worthwhile.
Handicrafts in Nepal is believed to have started since the Licchavi period (300-879 AD) though the official account of first handicraft is not available. But the classical period of Nepal (13th to 18th century) ruled by Malla dynasty helped, extensively in the enrichment of quality, authenticity, and originality of the Nepalese handicrafts.
Also Read : History & Current Status of Nepalese Handicrafts
In today’s hi-tech and industrialized society, the mere glance of the handmade and eco-friendly products lifts our tired spirits. Especially, obtaining the authentic and local handicraft gives us the pleasure, nowhere to be found. In Nepal, especially in Kathmandu valley, the tradition of craftsmanship is still preserved, thanks to the close-knit Newar (Indo-Burmic in origin believed to be natives of Kathmandu valley) communities who have been practicing it since many centuries. So, there is still the chance to feel the originality and the local-ness in the variety of handicrafts.
Basically, handimade crafts in Nepal can be divided into two main categories viz. textile handicrafts and non-textile handicrafts. The details of these categories are what I intend to describe in this article.
It includes, along with pashmina, wool, Dhaka (one kind of local textile), hemp products, also (nettle fiber), felt, silk, and cotton goods. These materials are extensively used to prepare the clothes, bags, jackets, shawls, trousers and so forth.
Nepalese Pashmina | Pashmina Shawls
In Nepal, the source of pashmina is the fur of the Himalayan goats (chyangras). Since they are reared in the high altitude of Nepal, pashmina is the item of the rarity. Often used to make the pashmina shawl, these days, with the advancement of technology, manufacturers in Kathmandu have been exporting Pashmina goods via internet too. Though pashmina industry experienced downfall because of the wide use of fake furs, after the strict scrutinization, the business is booming again.
nepali-girl-weari-gunyo-and-choli | Nepali Dress
Widely considered to be the pride of Nepal, Dhaka is the local textile which has been widely used as Nepali Cap(dhakatopi), blouse and shirts (kamij). During festivities of Newar and hilly people, women can be seen in colorful Dhaka attire that captures anyone’s eye. Believed to be originated from western hills, today, Dhaka represents the identity of Nepalese.
Dhaka Topi | Nepali Hat
Woolen, hemp, felt, and cotton goods
woolen hemp felt and cotton products
If you travel on the alleys of Thamel or Patan, you can clearly observe the bags made up of hemp, or the scarfs made up of silk with an art crafted by skilled artisans. Not to miss, woolen products such as jackets, pullovers, ponchos, mufflers, hats, gloves, and socks are textile handicrafts found in Nepal. And after 2006/7, the products of felt (somewhat like woolen are in optimum demand.)
It consists of woodcraft, stone craft, metal craft, silver jewelry, leather goods, thangka/paubha (religion-based paintings), bone and horn products, handmade paper products, incense, ceramics items, bamboo products, and plastic items.
woodcrafts | wooden cafts | carved wood
Maybe one of the oldest and popular handicrafts in Nepal, Woodcraft has been practiced by Silpakar (woodcarvers), the distinguished clan of Newar. Various products made out of wood can be found in Nepal which includes the miniature statues, and the tools for daily use crafted by skilled artisans.