Revisiting old Kathmandu Valley

KATHMANDU: The Chitrakar clan are the pioneers in the field of Nepali art, and late artist Raj Man Singh Chitrakar is one of them.

The prints of his sketches featuring monuments, settlements among others around Kathmandu Valley during 1844 are on display at the exhibition titled ‘Raj Man Singh Chitrakar — Artist to Mr Hodgson’ from November 22 at the Taragaon Museum, Bouddha.

The black-and-white sketches were created when Chitrakar worked as the principal artist to the then British resident Brian Houghton Hodgson (1800-1894). According to Puspha Chitrakar, the sixth generation descendant of Raj Man Singh, Hodgson was interested in Buddhism and wanted to know more about the Buddhist culture.

“In that process, Hodgson met Raj Man Singh to document the places which were important in the Buddhist religion,” he revealed.

Through Raj Man Singh’s sketches one can see a thinly settled Valley, areas covered with paddy fields and forests, settlements with a large number of temples and stupas rather than houses.

He did not miss to fill in the details of designs of religious monuments. In one sketch ‘Temple of Narayan at Narayanhitti’, the shikhar-styled temple is surrounded by traditional houses and huge trees.

A few people are passing the temple. Looking at the sketch you will not doubt the popular belief that Maru’s Kasthamandap was build using wood from one single tree. His drawings give a perspective on the history of Valley and how it has changed over time.

The majority of his works are at the British Library, Royal Asiatic Society, British Museum (Natural History) and Musee Guimet. The original copies of 40 sketches in the exhibition are at the Royal Asiatic Society, London.

At the exhibition’s opening ceremony, Arun Saraf, Chairman of The Saraf Foundation for Himalayan Traditions and Culture, announced that Nepal Architecture Archive, under the Foundation, will be archiving architectural

heritage and culture related material and artefacts for future references.

The exhibition continues till December 16.