The art of wood carving has been the pride of Nepal for many centuries. Wood work has been part of the traditional architecture of Nepal and wood carvings have graced monasteries, temples, places and residential homes since the 12th century. Bhaktapur is renowned for its wood carving and one of the good examples in the Handicrafts centers. The rich masterpieces in wood carving on the struts, pillars, windows of temples and buildings still boasts the skills of the craftsmen of Bhaktapur. Today, wood carving products like wooden frame, lamp stands, jeweler boxes, statues and so on have become popular souvenirs for foreign tourists as well as locals. Fabulous wood carved furniture, wooden toys and masterpieces of windows or sculptures- anything might catch your attention. Carving continues to play an important role in the traditional constructions being built in the valley today. Traditionally, woodcarving was confined to Newari artisans or Kami (Silpakar).
Paubha / Thankas Paintings
Bhaktapur is reputed to be a centre for Thangkas painting. Thangkas are painted on cotton canvas with water soluble pigments, both mineral and organic, tempered with an herb and glue solution. The entire process demands great mastery over the drawing and perfect understanding of econometric principles. The physical construction of a Thangkas, as with the majority of Buddhist art, is highly geometric. Arms, legs, eyes, nostrils, ears, and various ritual implements are all laid out on a systematic grid of angles and intersecting lines. A skilled Thangkas artist will generally select from a variety of pre-designed items to include in the composition, ranging from alms bowls and animals, to the shape, size, and angle of a figure's eyes, nose, and lips. The process seems very scientific, but often requires a very deep understanding of the symbolism of the scene being depicted, in order to capture the essence or spirit of it. Paubha and Thanka’s are religious murals made on canvas usually depicting images of the Hindu and Buddhist deities, their incarnation and philosophies.
Bhaktapur is center of terracotta products. The two pottery squares are widely popular where they are produced. Potters, who are kumaha by cast, are popular to shape the clay in various forms. First lumps of clay are shaped on wheels. Then they are dried under the sun for two to three days. Next they are fired in chimneys for three full days. Potter are ever busy making small to large pots, statues of animals, birds toys and soon.
Bhaktapur is renowned for traditional mask production. Masks are usually produced by the people of special cast called pun. Black clay, cotton, white cloths, Nepali paper and paints in the hands of these skilled puns produce masks that are used in traditional dances including the famous Nava Durga dance. Small as well as large replicas can serve as an attractive piece of souvenir.
Modernization has some how affected the traditional handloom product but still Bhaktapur is famous for its traditional hand cloths if you walk through the tranquil alleys of Bhaktapur, you may still hear the sounds of the handloom tar its is a traditional craft of the local Newars. Haku patasi- solid black with red bordered saris, patuka, shawl, kopya Nan, natural black cap i.e. taka topi are typical Newari dresses woven in Newari designs using handloom products. The topi are another Bhaktapur speciality. The expert weavers are now producing Pashmina scarves and shawls as well.
JuJuDhau (Kingcurd) Yogurt
The city of Bhaktapur is renowned for its Juju Dhau or Bhaktapur KO Dahe (curd from Bhaktapur). Traditionally the buffalo milk is used to produce this delicacy. The tasty yogurt is also known as king curd. It is the typical desert in a Newari community. In every ceremonial feast, yoghurt plays an important role. One should not miss it while visiting Bhaktapur. A visit to Bhaktapur is not complete without trying a bowl of Juju Dhau.
It is also one of the important products of Bhaktapur, usually produced by a cast called Tama (Tamrakar). They are still handcrafted in the same method used at the time the craft originated centuries ago and represent auspicious, religious and powerful deities. Then there are the hand tapped pots, vases and bells used in homes all over Nepal. One can find people at work in the small alleys of Sakotha.