KATHMANDU: The commission demanded by the tour guides against the thanka paintings sold to tourists has become the bane of the painters and sellers who have been earning their livelihood through the traditional art.
Ritesh Shrestha, an exporter of thanka paintings at Patan, said at times they had to wait for a month to sell a painting. "Sometimes, we don't earn even a single penny in a day, as this business is solely dependent on tourists. Some tourist guides seek up 50 per cent cut," he added. Shrestha added that some tourist guides negotiate commission with the sellers before bringing the tourists to their shops. "The guides only take the tourists to those shops that ensures high commission to them," he alleged. He said they had already taken the issue to the Federation of Nepali Handicraft Association, but to no avail.
Rakam Lama, a young thanka artist, said: "This business has great prospects. But it is sad to note that the thanka artists and sellers haven't been able to unite and discourage those money-minded tour guides," he added.
Thanka dealer Shyam Krishna said the tourist guides were demanding high commissions without considering the hard labour and time of the artists and the sellers.
Baikuntha Tandukar, a thanka painter and seller, said, "Tour guides are cutting into the profit that we make from selling thanka paintings."
However, Yas Kumar Shilpakar, a tourist guide, said the sellers themselves were offering more commissions to them to get more business. "A commission of 10 per cent is common. But sellers themselves have been offering us more commission because of the decline in business," he added.
Pushkar Man Shakya, president of the Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal, said they were yet to receive any written complaint from the thanka dealers. "We haven't received any such complaint. We can take necessary action if a written complaint is lodged," he added.
He also urged the thanka artists, exporters and retailers to forge unity and discourage ill practices in business.