The most precious piece of Nepalese art ….. The Paubha


Paubha are religious paintings of Buddhist or Hindu figures or scenes originating from Nepal over 1000 years ago. The oldest surviving examples are in museums dating back to the 13th Century. They are mostly associated with the Newar people of central Kathmandu in the Ason area, a lively bustling community with buildings that still look medieval in form. They have their own language sounding more Chinese than Nepali with their own script too. My wife, Champa, is a Newar.

Champa’s family home, Ason, Kathmandu.

This Paubha is hung in the hall of our home; it is 90cm x 70cm painted on silk and framed behind glass. It was stretched, tied to a frame, and preserved as soon as we received it.
It was a wedding gift to us from Champa’s mother, and we have been married for 45 years. Laxmi was about 75 when she gave it to us having been given to her as a wedding present too, so add on another 50 years of age. Prior to that it was owned by Laxmi’s father for ……. I think you are getting the picture if you’ll pardon the pun!
This Paubha is therefore at least 200 years old and therefore extremely valuable extrinsically. But it is also of great intrinsic value having been handed down as marriage gifts and symbols through many generations of Champa’s family. Almost certainly we would not be permitted to take it out of Nepal today as an antique religious artefact.
Better known are the Tibetan paintings known as Thangka, probably due to the refugee situation of Tibetans and the work of the Dalai Lama. But remember that Buddha was born in Nepal, not India as some history books will tell you, and the Thangka tradition of painting is a copy of the Newar movement, probably following the invitation of Newar artists to go to Tibet in the 5th Century.
If you would like to learn more this is a good website Arts of NepalΒ 

Categories: Nepal, Travel

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21 replies

  1. I see it now :)) thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How did Champa’s family home hold up in the earthquake?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the original family home in the photo was completely unscathed, which is remarkable in the rabbit warren of Ason in central Kathmandu. But her youngest brothers house in the Thapathali district though relatively modern was badly damaged, and one nephews house, in Chauuni district near The Swayambhu temple was demolished. He is still living in a tent!


  3. Dear Dr. B,

    I’ve just reblogged this great post here –

    Sorry I couldn’t do it before. Yesterday was maddening!

    Do check it out and thanks again πŸ™‚


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on The Pradita Chronicles and commented:
    Hello Dear Readers,

    I found this insightful piece on a Heritage Art form originating in Nepal. Some of you may think that this looks Tibetan, or Ladakhi or even from Sikkim, but the article told me I was wrong in many ways. Read on, if art and history interest you, as they interest me, and I’m sure you’ll appreciate how art travels and inspires across borders.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reblogging my post Pradita, we have always valued sharing and supporting in this way which spreads interesting topics and helps each other to grow a Follower base. We normally write more about our travel adventures but have another month to wait before our three weeks railway trip across America from San Francisco to New York! Lots to write about then and we are trying to get another 20 followers by mid April. We have chosen your Friendship article to reblog next having thought about it quite a lot ….. probably tomorrow. πŸ‘πŸ•‰πŸ‘«

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow! A train trip that long? That in itself is an adventure. I wish you all the very best for you trip and I know you’ll make the most of it because that’s who you two are – living life to the fullest! Thank you for selecting my post. I’ll be truly honoured πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • We’re not on the train every day, for example 3 days in San Francisco, 2 days in Las Vegas, 2 days Grand Canyon, 2 days Denver, 2 days Chicago, 2 days Niagara Falls, 3 days New York. There’s two overnights on longer journeys plus shorter stays in Durango, Silverton ….. Look forward to you being “with” us!

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      • And I’ll be there, for sure. Keep posting πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That is beautiful indeed, and to be frank, I thought the art was very similar to the Tibetan Thangka. But that’s probably because, as you rightly pointed out, the refugee situation of Tibetans even in India has brought with them their art and culture too. So most of us Indians relate to such art as being of Tibetan origin.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Do you know who is represented in the painting Pradita?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m afraid, no,Doctor? It looks like some Hindu goddess,but which one I have no clue. Some form of Durga perhaps,because she holds a trident in her hand,but I really don’t know

        Liked by 1 person

      • Its Amoghpasa Lokeshvara but you may need to look it up. And it’s a male! The clues for reference are what is held in the 8 hands; a water pot, a lotus, a rosary beads, a trident, and most important a noose. If this post is of interest what not reblog it on your site as opposed to a guest article from me?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had no idea it was a Male. The form looks very feminine. It shall be my pleasure to repost this and inform my readers of this art form. Thank you 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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