Nepalese People in Arts (Sculpture Murtikala & Architecture Vastu Kala)


Nepalese People in Arts (Sculpture Murtikala & Architecture Vastu Kala)

Nepali Sculpture

A piece of art that is made from the solid material: clay, stone, wood, plastic, metal, etc by carving or molding is called sculpture. It is a three-dimensional work of art. Tools such as a hammer, chisel are used while making sculptures.

The designs may be produced in freestanding objects, in relief, or in environments, and a variety of media maybe used, including clay, wax, stone, metal, fabric, wood, plaster, rubber, etc. Materials maybe carved, modeled, molded, cast, wrought, and welded, sewn, or assembled and combined. Various forms of sculpture have been found in virtually every culture throughout history. Present-day sculptors use any materials and methods of manufacture that will serve their purposes, and so the art of sculpture can no longer be identified with any special materials or techniques.

The themes of sculpture are similar to that of the painting: mostly religious and cultural.

There is a long practice of making statues or sculptures of deities in Nepal. The Lichhavi Period is considered to be the beginning of sculptures in Nepal. The statue of Tribikram, the oldest so far in Nepal is believed to be carved during the reign of Lichhavi King Mandev. Statues of Yaksha and Birupakshya are also among the oldest, but there are no evidence when they were built. Statues at Changunarayan Temple (Changu), Palanchowk Bhagawati (Kavre), Narayan (Narayanasthan, Budanilkantha) and numerous stone spouts, dhungedhara in the Kathmandu Valley are also believed to be the sculpture of Lichhavi Period.

Nepali stone Sculpture Picture

Development of sculpture reached its climax during the Malla Period. It was the golden period of Murtikala. Many metals, stone, rock and wooden sculptures of Ganesh, Shiv, Vishnu, Surya, Laxmi, Saraswati, Buddha etc built during this period are found around the Kathmandu Valley. Mahisasur Mardini (Pharping), Suryanath (Banepa), Vishi (Bhaktapur),   Ugrachandi  (Bhaktapur),   Bhairav  (Kathmandu),   Saraswati  (Hadigaui Narasimha (Hanumandhoka) and Garuda (Mahankal), the golden gates of Bhaktapur Durbar, Taleju Temples (Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur) and the statues of the Ma kings are some examples of sculptures of the Malla Period.

There was not much sculptural development during the Rana and the Shah periods. However, they had their own statues made and placed at popular places in Kathmandu. During the Panchayat period, the statues of King Mahendra and King Birendra were placed even outside the Kathmandu Valley. Statues of respectable national heroes including poets, statesmen, singers and martyrs have been installed at different places all over the country.


Terai region is popular in sculptural works. During various festivals, statues of Gods and Goddesses are made of mud, straw, bamboo, metal rods etc and colored.

Present State of Sculpture Work in Nepal

There are several institutions, associations and individuals involved to-day to promote sculpture. There is a campus for studying fine arts called, Lalitkala (Fine Art) Campus in Kathmandu. It provides formal education on painting and sculpture. Nepal Academy and the related institutions under it like Nepal Association of Fine Arts (NAFA) promote fine arts and sculptures.

There are several cottage industries producing sculptural works. Such works are gaining popularity among tourists and local people.

Nepali Architecture Vastu Kala

Architecture is called Vastu Kala in Nepali. It is the art, science, or profession of designing, constructing, or restoring buildings or other artificial structure.


Architecture is an important component of culture in Nepal. It has been influenced by other countries as well. Ancient and medieval Nepali architecture is unique, excellent and the best from a scientific point of view. It demonstrates superb design, skill, idea and devotion of our ancestors in this field.

Nepali architectures can be divided into four groups according to their styles of construction: Pagoda Style, Stupa or Chatya Style, Shikhar Style and Mughal/Mugul Style.

This refers to a multi-roofed structure with a large squared or sometimes rectangular base. It becomes proportionately narrower in the upper parts and has a pinnacle (gajur) at the top. This is a very ancient style of Nepali architecture. This style is believed to be introduced in China by a famous Nepali architect, Araniko. Most of the Hindu temples and old palaces of Nepal are built in this style.

The nine-storied Basantapur Durbar and the Gorkha Durbar, the Nuwakot Durbar of Prithivinarayan Shah are also built in this style. There are many temples all over the country constructed in this style.

Stupa or Chaitya Style:

The stupa is also called Chaitya, consciousness. It is actually a shrine, which has the broad circular domelike base with gradually upward narrowing structure.It has no roof rather shrink top with a parasol and golden pinnacle at the top. Stupas have often praying wheels around them. Swayambhunath, Boudhanath, Mayadevi Temple (Lumbini) etc are the examples of such a style of architecture. Emperor Ashok, an ardent follower of Lord Buddha is said to have introduced this style in Nepal. Stupas are popular among Buddhist communities, The Charumati Chaitya (Chabhil) and Ashok Stupa (Patan) are also built in this style. Ashok Stupa is considered the oldest Stupa. In later days, stupas of different sizes are built with Mahayana theme.

Shikhar Style:

Shikhar means the top of the mountain. Hence, this style of architecture has top looked like the peak of a mountain. In this style, the structure is divided into five or nine parts from outside in a vertical manner. The topmost part of each structure has a circular pinnacle looking like a sharp mountain peak. Each of the peaks has a gajur. This style doesn’t have a roof. The ground floor is used for worshiping. The Krishna Mandir and Mahaboudha Temple (Patan) are examples of the Shikhar style. These temples were I built by the Malla Kings Siddhinarsingh and Shivnarsing Malla respectively,

Krishna Mandir is built of stones. There are 21 pinnacles, which have made the temple look very beautiful. Mahabouddha Temple is made of terracotta brick panels. This temple is also called the temple of one thousand Buddhas and the Temple with ten thousand eyes.

Mughal/Mogul Style:

This style of architecture has a big square or rectangular shape in the lower section and a number of domes (gumbaj) like structures in upper part. There is a big open area in the center surrounded by the buildings. In fact, it looks like a fort. The Janaki Temple (Janakpur) is the excellent example of this style. There are many other such structures in the Terai region.

Besides the above-mentioned styles of architectures, there are some other styles of architectures as well. There are Vihars and European styles among many other popular styles. Hiranyavarna Mahavihar (Patan), Chatuvarna Mahavihar (Bhaktapur) and Chhusya Bahal (Kathmandu) are some famous viharas. Some of the European   style   buildings   are   Singh Durbar,  built by  Chandra  Shumsher; Thapathali Durbar, built by Jung Bahadur; Keshar Mahal, built by Kesher Shumsher, Ranimahal  (Palpa), built by Khaddar Shumsher, etc.

Ancient Nepali architectures are our pride, identity, and national wealth. The 55 windowed palace (Bhaktapur) and the other structures in and around the old durbar squares demonstrate unparalleled Nepali skills in architecture. We should protect, preserve and promote them.

Emailed by the writer: Rajesh Maharjan, Bhaktapur



Jitendra Sahayogee

I am Jitendra Sahayogee, a writer of 12 Nepali literature books, film director of Maithili film & Nepali short movies, photographer, founder of the media house, designer of some websites and writer & editor of some blogs, has expert knowledge & experiences of Nepalese society, culture, tourist places, travels, business, literature, movies, festivals, celebrations.

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