Picturesque Nepal

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Picturesque Nepal  (1912) 
by Percy Brown
"A corner of the Durbar Square, Patan (p. 75).

A CORNER OF THE DURBAR SQUARE, PATAN. (p. 75).

PICTURESQUE


NEPAL


BY

PERCY BROWN

INDIAN EDUCATIONAL SERVICE; ASSOCIATE OF THE ROYAL
COLLEGE OF ART; PRINCIPAL OF THE GOVERNMENT SCHOOL
OF ART, CALCUTTA; TRUSTEE OF THE INDIAN MUSEUM
CALCUTTA, AND OFFICER-IN-CHARGE OF THE ART SECTION


Picturesque Nepal title image.png


LONDON

ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK

1912

PREFACE


The interest which it is believed the countries of the Indian Borderland possess for a considerable portion of the reading community is the reason for the presentation of this venture. Information of any nature regarding a territory about which the recent literature is scanty may not be unacceptable, while impressions obtained first-hand of a region somewhat off the beaten track have a claim to be placed on record. Especially does this apply to the little-known State of Nepal, where the wonderful natural scenery and the creative genius of man have combined to make a powerful appeal to all lovers of the picturesque and of the imaginative in art. It is trusted that some of the observations here produced—particularly those relating to the remarkably artistic character of the Newars—may fulfil the purpose for which they are intended. This character of the original inhabitant of Nepal is, like many other attractive qualities of the Oriental, now undergoing a marked transition, and the art craftsman of to-day lives in a world different from that of his forbears of the last generation. The brief photographic survey included in these pages is an attempt to preserve some of the main features of the latter's art, now falling rapidly into decay, and may in the near future serve in its pictorial capacity as a form of reference. At a time like the present when Eastern æsthetics are attracting the attention of scholars in all quarters, and particularly when the great field of Buddhist art is coming more into focus, a view of a little-known aspect of this subject may perhaps be the humble means of assisting in the elucidation of some of the complex problems with which this study is surrounded.

A short personal acquaintance with the buildings in the Valley of Nepal speedily revealed one fact which could not be over-looked. This was that the visit leading to the production of this work was made only just in time, as before our eyes the modernization of the State was being conducted in a very emphatic manner. Down the main bazaar of Katmandu a row of electric light standards was being erected, and with the present progressive policy of the Nepal Durbar in other directions, the old is, almost hourly, giving place to the new.

For some years my duties have brought me into close touch with a unique collection of the art productions of Tibet and Nepal, and I have been able from time to time to add to this as occasion offered. A study of these specimens, however, was in no sense satisfying—owing to that barrier which naturally arises in connection with all Museum research. I refer to the scarcity of information regarding the object for which these specific works of art were devised, the dearth of any knowledge appertaining to the particular circumstances in which they were created, the lack of evidence relating to the religious atmosphere with which they were surrounded, and ignorance as to their general local associations. Before the full significance of this Central Asian school of art could be realized, some idea as to environment, and that "inseparable accompaniment of beauty"—its fitness, seemed called for. The grim portals of Tibet—difficult as they were to open before—are now more hermetically sealed than they have been for centuries, and my only hopes lay in an investigation of these conditions as maintained in the neighbouring country of Nepal. Through the kind offices of the British Resident, Lt.-Col. Manners-Smith, V.C, I was enabled to put my desires into effect and to pay an extended visit to the Valley. The tour was a revelation, as it soon demonstrated to me that this comparatively small area was a veritable art museum of a particularly interesting character, with all the drawbacks to such an institution removed but with many an added charm. The results of my study of the artistic monuments of the Nepal Valley, and that series of examples from a kindred source in the Government Art Gallery, Calcutta, to which I have had such free access, are incorporated in the following pages.

To the Nepal Durbar, and especially to the Maharaja Chander Sham Sher Jang Rana Bahadur, my thanks are due for the permission so generously allowed me to travel in the State and to publish this account of my impressions.

P. B.

Calcutta, February 1912.

CONTENTS
 
CHAPTER I

THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF NEPAL

Situation—Its Isolation—Legend of the Foundation of Nepal—The Valley of Nepal 1
 
CHAPTER II

THE HISTORY OF NEPAL

Mythological Period—Visit of Buddha to the Valley—Asoka's Visit—Chinese Record—The Malla Rajas—The Gurkha Period 14
 
CHAPTER III

THE PEOPLE

The Different Tribes in Nepal—The Gurkhas and the Newars—The Religions of Nepal—Religious Influence on the Art of the State—Tantrism 29
 
CHAPTER IV

THE HIGH ROAD TO KATMANDU

The Snowy Range of the Himalayas—Through the Plains—The Terai—The Road in the River-bed—Churia Rest-house—Fishing—The Pass of Sisagarhi—The Pass of Chandragiri—First View of the Valley of Nepal—The Last Stage 41
 
CHAPTER V

THE CITIES OF THE VALLEY

Katmandu—Legendary Plan—History—The Durbar—Bhim Sen's Tower—Bhatgaon—The Durbar Square—The Golden Gate—Nyatpola Deval or the Temple of the Five Stages—The Taumari Tol—Patan—Its Decay—The Durbar Square—Principal Buildings of Patan—Kirtipur 61
 
CHAPTER VI

PASHPATTI

The Doorway of Death—Its Buildings—The Daily Devotees—Women Pilgrims—The Burning-Ghat 84
 
CHAPTER VII

THE TEMPLE OF CHANGU-NARAIN

The Situation of the Temple—Pilgrims to the Shrine—The Art and Architecture of the Temple—The Pilgrims' Ritual 93
 
CHAPTER VIII

FESTIVALS

The Popularity of the Festivals—The Machendranath Festival—The Procession—The Dassera Festival—The Review—The Dassera Procession—Blessing the Colours at the Kot—Minor Celebrations, "Kaka boli" and "Swana boli"—The Pilgrimage—The Sacred Lake of Gosainthan 103
 
CHAPTER IX

THE ARTS OF THE NEWARS

Art and Religion—Indian and Chinese Influences—Nepalese Architecture—The "Chaitya"—Buddhist Temples—Bodhnāth and Shambu-Nāth—Symbolism of the "Chaitya"—The "Pagoda"—Origin of the Pagoda 127
 
CHAPTER X

THE ARTS OF THE NEWARS (continued)

The Nepalese School—Its Origin and Influences—Metal-work—Metal Statuary—The Process of Manufacture—The Artist-priest—Minor Metalwork—The Makara—Religious Utensils—Wood-carving—Terra-cotta—Stone-carving—Textiles 152
 
CHAPTER XI

SKETCHES

The Water-Garden of Balaji—Fishponds and Fountains—The Submerged Narain—Lamaism—The "Unko Vihar"—The High-priest—Gambling—The Day of Gifts 177
INDEX

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


* A Corner of the Durbar Square, Patan
Frontispiece
FACING PAGE
Carved Elephants outside a Temple dedicated to Krishna in the Durbar Square at Patan
1
The Range of Himalayan Snows seen from the Valley of Nepal
8
Statuette in Copper-gilt of Maitreya, the Coming Buddha
11
The Residency at Katmandu
14
Copper-gilt Statuette of Manjusri, the Founder of Nepal
17
Windows richly ornamented with Carved Woodwork in the Courtyard of the Temple of Changu-Narain
24
A Temple in Bhatgaon
27
Terra-cotta Decoration on a Shrine at Bhatgaon
30
In the Durbar Square at Katmandu
33
In the Durbar Square at Bhatgaon
40
Copper-gilt Figure of "Tara" at Shambu-Nāth
43
The First View of the Nepal Valley from the Chandragiri Pass
46
General View of the Nepal Valley, showing the Effects of Erosion
49
Entrance to the Temple of Ganeshthan, near Bhatgaon
56
* The Main Street of Katmandu
60
Entrance to the Durbar at Patan
65
The Golden Gate of the Durbar Hall at Bhatgaon
72
* Entrance to the Temple of Bhavani at Bhatgaon
76
An Oriel Window in Bhatgaon
81
General View of Pashpatti, the "Place of the Dead"
88
A Picturesque Corner, Pashpatti
91
Elephant outside the Southern Entrance to the Temple of Changu-Narain
94
* Doorway to Shrine of the Changu-Narain Temple
100
Shrine dedicated to Ganesh at Patan
105
The Back of the Durbar at Katmandu
112
Elaborate Woodwork in the Main Street of Katmandu
115
Entrance to a Temple in Katmandu
118
A Copper-gilt Shrine at the Temple of Shambu-Nāth
121
Metal Work on a Temple Front at Katmandu
128
In the Durbar Square at Bhatgaon
131
A Window of Carved Wood at Bhatgaon
134
The Dome of Bodhnāth
137
The Buddhist Temple of Shambu-Nāth
144
Doorway of a Small Temple at Bhatgaon
147
Details of a Temple Doorway at Bhatgaon
150
Metal Statue of Raja Bhupatindra Mall, Durbar Square, Bhatgaon
153
Elaborate Wood-carving on Bhairan Temple at Bhatgaon
160
Wood-carving over a Doorway in Katmandu
163
Steps of the Nyatpola Deval, or the Temple of the Five Stages, at Bhatgaon
166
Fountains in the Garden at Balaji
169
The Submerged Statue of Narain at Balaji
176
Stone Temple in the Durbar Square at Bhatgaon
185
Brass Temple Utensil from Patan
192
* These four illustrations are in colour; the others are in black and white.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1955, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.