Newari Architecture

Newari woodcarving is probably the most distinct feature of the Kathmandu Valley.

But perhaps the quintessential Newari art was woodcarving. With their talent for design and invention, the Newars turned the window into a lavish display of the carver’s skill and imagination; instead of a rectangular hole, the window became richly decorative, exuberant, playful.

—  Marcia R. Lieberman .

Art is always present in our everyday lives, be they street art, architecture, graffiti, signage, ephemera, performance, etc. Whereas some cities like Melbourne take pride in their graffiti, the cities of the Kathmandu Valley (Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhaktapur) is covered in beautiful Newari archiecture.

Newari is the distinct creative architecture by the Newar people, the historic inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. The New York Times says that “Their artists and craftsmen, whose skill was noted by visitors as early as the seventh century, left their stamp on the art of Tibet and China… [they] created beguiling patterns on brick walls, much as Persians, Turks and others did on carpets.” Until 1768-169, each city in the Kathmandu valley was their own kingdom. At that time, each Newari king competed on a grand scale and “each of the three cities built a Durbar (or Palace) Square, competing to fill it with the most magnificent palaces and temples.

Patan Durbar Square/LONELY PLANET

In itself, Newari architecture can be considered a form of religious expression of the people towards the Divine as a lot of the wooden carvings are decorated with images of deities, mythical beings, dragons, peacocks, auspicious jars and other elements.

An image of the Vedic god Ganesha carved onto a wall/The Newars

Newari architecture can be considered a part of an “unofficial” tourist attraction. For despite the fact that Newari architecture in itself is not usually advertised as the attraction, a majority of top “tourist” spots in the Kathmandu Valley are of Newari architecture, especially those sites and buildings that possess a religious (e.g. temple) or historical (e.g. durbar square) significance to the local Nepalese population.

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