Nepal has been blessed with many natural resources, including beautiful mountains, diverse culture, and rich tradition. In addition to these, Nepal is also known for its handicraft industry which provides livelihood to thousands of people involved in this field. Some of them are making their own traditional products like handwoven carpets, wooden furniture, brassware, and terracotta items. These craftsmen have played a significant role in maintaining cultural identity and promoting tourism. Many of them have managed to make a good income from their products and now they can provide a better living standard for themselves.
Nepalese handicrafts are some of the finest handicrafts produced in Nepal. They have been handed down from generation to generation and are still done using age-old techniques. Some of these crafts include silver jewelry, woodcarvings, paintings, carpets, and appliquéd clothing.
Nepalese Artisans are masters at creating traditional handicrafts using natural materials like wood, leather, stone, bamboo, and cotton. They use these crafty skills to create beautiful items that can be used both indoors and out. Some of their creations include hand-carved wooden boxes, jewelry, masks, and figures. Many of them sell their goods in local markets or online.
Most handicraft products of the country are exported to different parts of the world. There are many exporters who specialize in this field. Many of the Nepalese handicraft products can be seen at the Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Lalitpur Durbar Square, and other tourist attractions.
Different Types of Handicrafts
- Wood Carving
Wood carving is a traditional art form that has been used since ancient times in Nepal. There are many types of carvings like wall hangings, door frames, furniture, toys, and musical instruments. Each region of Nepal has its own type of wood carving including bamboo, teakwood, rosewood, and mahogany. This tradition is carried out using different types of tools such as chisel, hammer, saw, plane, jackknife, and drills.
Wood carving is common in the rural parts of Nepal. It is a craft that has been passed down through generations for thousands of years. Most people have heard about wood carving in Nepal but may not know what exactly it entails. The art of woodcarving requires patience, skills, knowledge, and experience. Many artists carve out their entire existence, making enough money to survive in this tough industry.
- Silver Jewelry
In the hilly regions of Nepal, silver jewelry making is quite popular. There are many shops in different tourist hotspots in the country, that usually display beautiful silver jewelry that is handcrafted and designed according to the needs of its customers.
Silver jewelry is usually crafted from sterling silver, which is 92% pure silver. Sterling silver is considered to be the standard against which other metals are measured. This makes it a popular material among jewelers who want to create beautiful pieces of jewelry. In this silver art, the Nepelaese artisans create the metal objects are created using different techniques like hammering, melting, casting, and soldering. These craftsmen work with different metals like copper, brass, aluminum, zinc, iron, and gold.
Papermaking is one of the oldest handicrafts in Nepal. It is traditionally done with the help of tree bark, palm leaves, rice stalks, and bamboo. The final product is called “Pahari papyrus” (Nepali:पाही पापुरी) in the Nepalese language.
This craft is still practiced in rural areas mainly for writing purposes but now this art has become a popular trend in cities like Kathmandu. But not only that this art was used to write down some historical documents that are written in the Sanskrit language (the oldest script) and Nepali language. There are also many other things that people use them for like painting pictures, music notes, poems, and other artistic works.
- Nepalese Bamboo Crafts
The art of making bamboo crafts has been practiced for centuries ago. In Nepal, the craftsmanship of these handicrafts is still done using traditional methods. They are used to make baskets, toys, furniture, tools, and home decorations. The bamboos that are used can vary from tree species to grass species according to the purpose. However, they are usually categorized based on their size and color. Smaller-sized, lighter colored ones are usually used for making items like boxes, bowls, and trays, while larger sized, darker colored ones are typically used for making musical instruments like flutes and drums.
The art of making these crafts dates back to ancient times when they were used for daily needs. There are many types of bamboo crafts including basketry, woodcarving, paper-making, weaving, carving, painting, and metalworking. These crafts are still practiced today as a way of preserving tradition and culture.
- Clay Carpets
The Nepalese have been using clay carpets since ancient times to keep their homes clean and free from dust. They are also incredibly useful in keeping mud off floors. There’s no question that these carpets are very durable and can last for many years if treated well. Because they were originally only used inside houses, the people of Nepal have developed amazing techniques for making them weather-resistant and waterproof. Some of the methods they use include painting the carpet with rice paste, applying waxes to make them water-resistant, and even adding bits of metal to give the carpet a shiny appearance.
Clay carpets are a type of handicraft product produced mainly in the Kathmandu Valley. The art of carpet-making started in Nepal during the medieval period. At the time, the royal families of Nepal were rich and powerful. They had their own houses where they lived. The royal family members would decorate these houses with beautiful rugs. These rugs were made out of wool, cotton, and silk. Later on, the art spread among the common people, and nowadays, this art is still popular in rural communities.
- Hemp Products
Nepal has been using hemp for thousands of years due to its many uses. In Nepal, it is used to make clothing, ropes, mats, bags, and other things. Hemp was historically cultivated only for fiber production, it is native to Asia and Europe, but it is believed to have originated in Central Asia.
Hemp which was once grown throughout the world and was considered to be the best fiber in the world has kept its consistency throughout the decades, nowadays, is widely used to produce clothes like jeans, shirts, dresses, bags, and other accessories. During your time in Nepal, you can find many hemp products that have both decorative and functional properties, an ideal souvenir on the way back home.
- Pashmina Products
The Pashmina Products Nepal (PPN) are hand-woven products that are used for many purposes, including clothing, accessories, home decor, and even pet care. Pashmina products are known for their quality and durability. They are produced from the finest cashmere wool sourced from the Himalayan region. This product is well-known for its softness, warmth, and luxurious feel. It is a great choice for men’s accessories and women’s fashion.
To keep with the demand of the present market, the Pashmina products in Nepal are designed keeping in mind the latest fashion trends. For the finest quality gift or souvenir to take back home, the high quality-long lasting Pashmina products are among the top choices of thousands of tourists in Nepal.
- Felt Products
Felt was originally made from sheep’s wool but now is commonly used for making clothing and carpets in Nepal. These garments are usually brightly colored and decorated with embroidery. The production of felt has been passed down through generations in Nepal. Families used to have their own looms where they weave different patterns and designs and many people still handcraft felt products today.
The best place to buy felt products in Nepal is in Kathmandu. There are shops in Thamel, the tourist area of Kathmandu. You can find these shops at Thamel Durbar Marg, Basantapur Durgapokhari, New Road, Patan, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Bhrikuti Mandir, Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath Temple, and Boudhanath Stupa.
Nepal has been at the forefront of the Himalayan region’s spirituality and arts. There are many forms of art practiced here that give evidence of this. One of them is the Thangka painting which can be traced back to the early centuries of Buddhism. These paintings have developed over the years into intricate religious pieces and even paintings devoted to goddesses like Kali and Durga. They are usually done on cloth and range in size anywhere between 4-10 feet long. You may have seen similar images being sold around touristy areas, or online.
The word ‘Thangka’ is derived from two Nepali words “than” (meaning "thread") and “gika” (meaning “to draw”). In other words, than means thread and gika means to draw. Hence, Thangka literally translates into drawing thread. This historic art form has a great impact on the cultural values of the country and even today, thousands of artists are still practicing this unique craft in Kathmandu Valley.
- Tibetan Singing Bowls
A Tibetian singing bowl is used to create sound vibrations that are believed to have healing properties. Its high-pitched tone resonates at the frequency of the human voice and can help to improve vocal health. This type of singing bowl is also used in meditation, yoga, and other exercise routines.
These traditional instruments are also used for special occasions like weddings and the opening of schools. They sing songs and spread happiness and good energy. In addition to this traditional Tibetan bowl, there are other modern versions that produce different sounds. The Himalayan bowl has a steady drone that produces energy throughout the day. It is said to help clear negative energy and attract positive vibrations into your life.
Nepalese Khukuri (also known as khurki) are traditional handcrafted tools used in Nepal. They are usually made from bamboo and other materials like stone, wood, and iron. These items can be used for different purposes including home use, decoration, gardening, carpentry, hunting, farming, and even construction.
They are similar to long knives but with curved and thick blades. There are many different types of khukuri with varying functions and shapes. The beauty of a khukuri lies in its intricate design and detailed workmanship. Each item takes dedicated long hours to complete, and each piece is carefully designed and polished to perfection.
The best thing about khukuri is that they can be reused again and again. They can either be given away as gifts or sold to earn money for the family.
- Dhaka Topi
The Nepalese Dhaka topi is a traditional hat that has been worn by the people of Nepal since ancient times. The Nepalese Dhaka topi is made of cotton and is generally decorated with sequins and other decorative elements. The Nepalese Dhaka Topi can be seen at festivals and celebrations and is still quite popular among the older generation.
This style of headdress was once popular among royalty and nobility in the Himalayan region of South Asia. And, is still in practice among the leaders of the country.
- Nepali Rice Paper Products
Nepali rice paper products are mainly used for making souvenirs, gift items, and other decorative purposes. They are usually hand-made by local artisans using traditional methods. Nepalese rice paper is sold in different sizes, shapes, and colors.
The rice paper products in Nepal include kantha (traditional bed quilts), pattis (woven mats), dhotis (loincloths), saris (women’s garments), wall hangings, and prayer flags. There are three types of Nepalese rice paper products: plain, printed and colored. Plain rice paper is used for making decorations for religious ceremonies. Printed rice paper is decorated with images of Buddha, Hindu deities, and other symbols of good luck. Colored rice paper is used to create designs that resemble flowers, animals, fruits, vegetables, or other objects.
- Traditional Masks
Nepalese traditional masks are a unique art form that has been practiced since ancient times. They are created using natural materials such as wood, stone, clay, and leather. Each mask represents a different personality trait, event, or object. Some masks may have only a single eye while others may have multiple eyes. These masks are worn on special occasions like weddings and festivals.
This craft is passed down from generation to generation and many artists continue to practice this ancient tradition. Artisans use these masks to protect their families from evil spirits. These masks are used to ward off bad luck and ensure good fortune. In Nepal, these masks are sold at local markets and some are even displayed in museums. You can find traditional masks in various sizes, shapes, and designs.
- Tibetan Prayer Flags
Tibetan prayer flags are used in Buddhism to communicate with deities. They can be seen at temples and monasteries around Nepal, especially in Buddhist monasteries. These colorful flags consist of strips of cotton that have been woven together to form a long rectangular shape. There are many different types of prayers that can be communicated through these flags. Each color represents a specific deity.
These flags are used as symbols of protection and guidance throughout the Himalayas. They represent a spiritual link between Tibetans and their ancestors. These colorful flags have been used for thousands of years, and many of them were created by monks who wanted to show respect for nature. Today, these flags are still made by hand from silk, cotton, wool, and other natural materials like hemp.
In Buddhism, prayer flags are considered to be a symbol of protection. Many Tibetan people believe that if they hang a flag above their door, it will keep thieves away.
History of Nepali handicrafts
The history of Nepali handicrafts dates back to ancient times. In fact, the craftsmanship of Nepal has been practiced since time immemorial. This is evident from the findings of archeological relics that have been discovered across the country. These include statues, paintings, sculptures, metalwork, woodcarvings, and textiles. All these are evidence of the rich cultural heritage of the nation.
Handicrafts play a major role in the socio-economic life of the people of Nepal. They help in meeting the basic needs of rural communities. Moreover, they provide them with additional sources of income. Also, they contribute to the overall national economy by providing employment opportunities to thousands of artisans. Among the different types of handicraft materials, wooden handicrafts are among the most popular items produced in Nepal. Its products include wooden furniture, boxes, trays, bowls, and musical instruments. The country is known for its excellent carpentry skills, which is why the quality of its products is unmatched. These crafts are not only popular among locals but also among foreigners. They are often bought by collectors and museums around the world.