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Inventory of Stone Sculptures of the Kathmandu Valley

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Item Code: UAG903
Author: Lain S. Bangdel
Publisher: NEPAL Academyn, Kathmandu
Language: English
Edition: 1995
Pages: 488 (Throughout B/w Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 8.50 inch
Weight 1.46 kg
Book Description
About the Author
Lain S. Bangdel (b. 1924) graduated from the Government College of Arts and Crafts, Calcutta in 1945. He then went to Paris and studied art at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, Paris (1952-57), and undertook research on the history of European art in London (1958-60). His Late Majesty King Mahendra nominated him a member of the Royal Nepal Academy (1961). In 1974 he was nominated Vice-Chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy by His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and was further nominated as the Chancellor (1979-1989).

Lain S. Bangdel is one of the leading authorities on Nepalese art. He has written a number of books and articles on Nepalese paintings and sculptures, as well as novels, travelogues and biographies of great European painters. He is the author of Early Sculptures of Nepal (1982), 2500 Years of Nepalese Art (German Edition, 1987), and Stolen Images of Nepal (1989). He was also a visiting Professor at the Denison University, USA, where he taught South Asian art (1968-69).

Bangdel has received numerous national and international awards, for his contributions to Nepalese art and culture, such as the Birendra Gold Medal, Dulichand Gold Medal, including foreign decorations from Great Britain, Italy, France and Spain. As a modern artist, Bangdel is also regarded as a towering figure in the field of contemporary art in Nepal.

The valley of Kathmandu where thousands of religious art in stone, metal, wood, terra- cotta and paintings are found not only in Hindu and Buddhist shrines and temples but also scattered in streets, lanes and open places, is literally a huge open museum. The antiquity of the art of this valley goes back to over two thousand years for, hordes of ancient sculptures dating back to the early Christian era, were recently discovered as evidence in the very heart of Kathmandu city. Lying on the southern slope of the Himalaya, the valley of Kathmandu has been the seat of Nepalese art and culture since ancient times.

The Kingdom of Nepal remained geographically isolated for centuries but when the country was opened to the outside world in the fifties, Nepalese art became very well known and appreciated throughout the world, however, the negative side was the loss of our cultural heritage as priceless art objects were smuggled out of the country illegally. In view of the above facts, the author of this book, Mr. Lain Singh Bangdel, who is a noted painter and one of the leading authorities in Nepalese art and also the former Chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy, has undertaken a project under the aegis of the Academy about ten years ago on the Inventory of stone sculptures of the Kathmandu valley for the preservation of cultural heritage of Nepal. Although a complicated and first of its kind of project in Nepal, the author has painstakingly visited every locality prying into each street, by-lane and corner, studying and photographing the images. This book will be indeed one of the solid contributions of the author in the field of cultural history of Nepal. The Royal Nepal Academy has published a number of important books not only on the creative works by noted writers and poets but also books on the history of Nepalese literature, language, philosophy, anthropology, culture, music, grammar, dictionaries etc. however, this book will be a new significant contribution of the author. I hope this book will inspire our own people to preserve our rich cultural heritage, at the same time help those scholars interested in our art. The Royal Nepal Academy is happy to publish this valuable book and would like to congratulate the author Mr. Bangdel.

The Valley of Kathmandu has been the seat of ancient art and culture of Nepal for over two thousand years. It is most likely that the antiquity of stone sculpture in Kathmandu Valley goes back to the 1st century B.C. or the 1st century A.D. if not earlier. The Yaksha image found at Hadigaon almost four and half decades ago or the recent discovery of Jaya Varma at Maligoan bearing an inscription and date of Saka Samvat 107 corresponding to A.D. 185 or horde of ancient images found in Kathmandu Valley including the Mother Goddesses indicate an early beginning of stone sculpture. Hence, we may broadly devide the antiquity of Nepalese stone sculpture on the following categories: Kushana Period (B.C. 1st century to A.D. 2nd century), Pre-Licchavi Period (A.D. 3rd century to 4th century), Licchavi Period (A.D. 5th century to 8th century), Thakuri Period (A.D. 9th century to 11th century), Early MalIa Period (A.D. 12th century to 14th century) and MalIa Period (A.D. 15th century to 18th century).

In the Kathmandu Valley today, religious monuments are found virtually at every corner.

Stupas, monasteries, temples, wayside shrines, water conduits, old palaces and private courtyards are crowded with images. For the people, these images of the gods and goddesses are essentially the focus of daily worship and religious life, as the embodiments of the divine protectors and benefactors.

For a long time, Nepal had remained an isolated and forbidden country, partly because of , its geographical topography as well as its political situation. In the mid-fifties, Nepal's borders were opened to the outside world and since then, the art of this Himalayan kingdom has been widely appreciated throughout the world. Art lovers, antique dealers, private collectors and museums have begun to take great interest in Nepalese art. A negative consequence of this avid worldwide interest, however, has been the loss of cultural artifacts from the country. Many valuable religious objects and priceless cultural treasures have begun to disappear fast.

During the past four decades, Nepal has lost a number of images of great historical and cultural value. With a view to preserving the cultural heritage of Nepal, the author of this volume initiated a comprehensive survey and research of the ancient art of the Kathmandu Valley, starting from the seventies. The result was the publication of the EARLY SCULPTURES OF NEPAL in 1982, which discussed the pre-Licchavi sculptures of the Valley dating from the 1st to 4th century A.D. In 1987, 2500 YEARS OF NEPALESE ART (German Edition) was published. Furthermore, two cultural inventory projects, funded by the Toyota Foundation of Japan were also initiated by the author under the aegis of the Royal Nepal Academy. The first of these projects surveyed the stolen images and the book STOLEN IMAGES OF NEPAL was published in 1991.

The second and last volume of the archival project is the INVENTORY OF STONE SCULPTURES OF THE KAT MANDU VALLEY. In its entirety, this project was more complicated than previously envisioned. There were a vast number of stone images in each locality; some of them in excellent condition, others abraded or broken beyond identification.

In other situations, it was most difficult to photograph the images in situ, as they were placed in neglected areas, covered with moss, mud, or in a stagnant water pond. Furthermore, there were many places where photographing the images in situ were not permitted. This was particularly true of some of the Hindu. shrines where the main images in worship were not allowed to be photographed. In addition, among the Newar Buddhist community where some of the most esoteric rituals are practiced, the secret Tantric images in the agam shrine are often not open to public viewing. While on the one hand, this conservative tradition makes it difficult for a thorough inventory of the cultural objects, on the other hand, it is this conservatism and strong cultural tradition that have preserved many of the religious institutions and precious objects of the Kathmandu Valley.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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