The history of Nepalese stone sculpture goes back at least two thousand years. The survival of the oldest sculpture in the country indicates that stone sculpting was among the first art forms to have developed in the country.
Many sculptures of deities, animals, serpents, people, bells, water fountains, vessels, yogis, dwarfs, and Garudas (mythical half – bird half – human creatures) are made on stone. The craftsmen are highly gifted in their profession. Among all the traditional art forms of Nepal, they have, without a doubt, showed their greatest workmanship in stone carving.
Different earpieces, armlets, bracelets, anklets, styles of halos, folds of garments, manners of sash, and many others are the distinguishing features that classify the variety of art forms found in stone sculptures.
It is up to the artist to envision what he or she wants to create. References can be made to history or the imagination can rule. A rough sketch is made on stone. It is entirely the "feel" of the artisan that determines the quality of the product. Experience teaches the artist how to work. The only way they learn is through apprenticeship. The art of stonework is passed on from grandfather to father to son.
Tamangs, Newars, and even the Brahmins and Chettris are working as carvers in Patan. While few new images were being made for decades, ancient images were stolen and sold in the international market. Today, Nepal has young blood that can replace what was lost and in equal finery.
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