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Influence of Nepalese Art in Tibet

It was through Nepal that Mahayana Buddhism was introduced into Tibet during the reign of Angshuvarma in the 7th century AD. There was therefore a great demand for religious icons and Buddhist manuscripts for newly built monasteries throughout Tibet. A number of Buddhist manuscripts, including Prajnaparamita , were copied in the Katmandu Valley for these monasteries. Astashasrika Prajnaparamita for example, was copied in the Katmandu Valley for these monasteries. Astashasrika Prajnaparamita for example, was copied in Patan in the year 999 AD, during the reign of Narendra Deva and Udaya Deva, for the Sa-Sakya monastery in Tibet. For the Nor monastery in Tibet, two copies were made in Nepal-one of Astashasrika Prajnaparamita in 1069 AD and the other Kavyadarsha in 1111 AD.

The influence of Nepalese art extended to Tibet and even beyond China regular order during the thirteenth Century. Nepalese artisans were dispatched to the courts of Chinese emperors at their request to perform their workmanship and impart expert knowledge. The exemplary contribution made by the artisans of Nepal, specially by the Nepalese innovator and architect Balbahu, known by this popular name "Arniko" bear testimony to this fact even to day.

After the introduction of paper, palm leaf became less popular; however, it continued to be used until the eighteenth century. Paper manuscripts imitated the oblong shape but were wider than the palm leaves.


Another art that traces Nepalese culture from its early beginnings right up to modern times is sculpture. Many carved artifacts have been found in the Terai region of the country, thus providing an insight into the religion and culture of these times. As with painting, nearly all-Nepalese sculptures are of a religious character. In addition to the theme, it seems that the artists themselves were also greatly imbued with a feeling of religious devotion.

The Golden Age of Nepalese Sculpture

Nepalese sculpture reached its zenith in the Lichchhavi period; stone, copper and bronze images from this period show round faces with slanted eyes. While attention was also given to details, the main feature of this period is presentation of simplicity. The use of clothes and ornaments was quite restrained: many Hindu deities, for example are shown wearing only a dhoti (skirt-like lower garment). Buddhist deities were carved to show them wearing long sanghatis (a long saffron-colored robes that the Buddhists wear hanging from the shoulders). Lichchhavi period idols were so beautifully executed that it is not possible to find one specimen with a chiseled mark. Some of the best examples of Lichchhavi art are the images of Sleeping Vishnu in Budhanilkantha, located eight km north of Katmandu; and the Vishnu Vikrant or Dwarf Incarnation found near Lazimpat in Katmandu. In addition, there are some remarkable sculptures from Lichchhavi period (5th-8th Century) at Changu Narayan. The sculptural arts of 6th-14th and from early Malla period (11th-14th century) comprise equally important art treasures of Nepal.

Wood carving sculpture

Besides stone sculpture and bronze casting, another art form worth mentioning briefly is woodcarving. No visitor to the Katmandu valley can fail to be impressed by the numerous extremely intricate and beautiful wooden sculpture like windows, doors, temple roof-struts and other artifacts carved entirely by hand. As wood is obviously more vulnerable to the ravages of time and other art forms, well-preserved specimens only date back to the 14th century and the beginning of the Malla period. From this period onwards, woodcarving became an integral part of Nepalese architecture, some of the best examples being the old royal palaces of Katmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur and a number of different Viharas (monasteries) around the valley.

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