Rendering Nepal

  • Compiled by Chakshita
  • 2 November

This is a detailed account of the references put together by Nija Maharjan for the homepage illustrations. Each of these illustrations have taught us a great deal about our past and we hope to keep sharing our learnings with all of you.

SARANGI

As per word to word sharings, after a long journey from the persian empires, the sarangi set it’s imprint on several territories in diverse shapes, forms with adaptations but with the same common roots. We can see the imprints that set off during the beginning of the 18th century even today. Many can be seen playing the sarangi, a vanishing art in most south-asian countries.

The sarangi, a hollow instrument carved out of a single dark hardwood with three strings is considered to be a valuable musical accompaniment in the folk music scene dated back to the 18th century. The sarangi is revered for it’s uncanny capacity to imitate the inflections and timbre of the human voice as well as is revered for the intensity of emotional expression.

The sarangi is suitable to be termed as a traveler’s companion. There are many travel stories related to the sarangi, beginning from the stories of it’s invention according to the variated stories by the muslim musicians as well as the south asian muscians, to the tradition of sharing stories from one to the other place.

Sarangi is a prominent instrument used in nepali folk music. The sarangi has played an important role not only in the folk music scene but also in the sharing of stories and cultures from villages to villages, preserving the cultural and traditional history of Nepal. The “Gaine” or also known as the “Gandharvas” are to be credited for their impactful tradition. The Gandharvas were not simply musicians but they were itinerant storytellers. It is due to the Gandharvas, many stories from years ago are still in the atmosphere and are echoed in forms of songs played on the ancestral sarangi.

To know more about sarangi, it’s different forms, cultures, traditions here are a few links you can read up on.

https://www.sahapedia.org/sites/default/files/The%20Sarangi%20-%20A%20Historical%20Sketch.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20161013173217/https://jesiwagle.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/gaine-traditional-media-man/

PATRA MANJUSHA

Patra manjusha or a letter box, If you have ever seen one of it’s kind or have ever used one of it, consider yourself fortunate. Patra manjusha were bright coloured postal boxes mostly painted in red where you would put in your letters in hopes that your receiver gets it on time. 

Patra manjushas were opened to the public of Nepal during B.S. 1935 (1879 A.D.) after the establishment of “Nepal hulak ghar” (Nepal postal house). 

Slowly after the establishments of “hulak ghar” in most of the districts of Nepal, these bright red coloured boxes could be seen from afar and were in many places right outside of such hulak ghars and in consistent usage. Back in the days there were no such means of communications for further distances. A small letter used to travel a long way from one patra manjusha to the other. “Hulakis or hulaks” (post men) used to collect them and deliver them. The local hulakis were interesting people, as they knew every place and people by heart. If a hulaki was seen headed towards you, the joy you feel used to be indescribable. A letter used to hold immense value rather than just being a form of communication.

Today we pass by such an old and rusty patra manjusha and think of how old and museum-like it has become. The act of writing a letter, waiting for a letter to arrive, waiting for a letter in return was an incentive process.. The beauty of patra manjusha and the postal services have been overtaken by the modern and convenient mediums of social media and the internet which have it’s own perk but we should not forget the valuable beauty of the postal service. To see a postman and him collecting mail from the patra manjusha is a rare sight these days but to know that despite living in the convenient world, few still write mails and use the hulaki services. It is a joy to know that the hulak service of Nepal is still functioning despite the infrequency and hurdles the Nepal Hulak ghar has to face.

Here are a few links if you would like to know more on patra manjusha such as the celebration of “nepal hulak diwas” or “nepal postal day”

https://sites.google.com/a/weallnepali.com/we-all-nepali-main/nepali-festivals/nepal-postal-day#:~:text=The%20postal%20service%20in%20Nepal,UPU)%20on%2011%20October%201956.

MANUSCRIPTS

Manuscripts in simple were handwritten records before the inventions of any sort of printing. Manuscripts can be seen in several forms and in many scriptures all over the world. In Spite of the diversity in its making it has the same root in any part of the world to record informations write religious stories hymns mantras, record stories and to store many more knowledge filled informations which could now be shared and passed via these manuscripts without the doubt that information would be disrupted while sharing from word to word.

We can see manuscripts in mainly two forms. Pictures and paintings or scripted writings. “Granths chitra” (paintings found in books, “Pauwa or patra chitra” (scroll or cloth paintings), “Bhitte chitra” (wall paintings) are a few of nepali historical manuscript forms done on various surfaces depicting and reflection upon stories, culture, religious values and many more informations.

Nepali manuscripts can be found mostly in “Nepal bhasa” during the 10th-20th century, and also in the “pahari” “parbatiya” languages and several variations of the brahmi script. Nepali religious manuscripts can be notably seen in two categories, the buddhist/tibetan manuscripts and the hindu manuscripts. Thangkas and pauwa chitra’s are a form of visual manuscripts depicting various religious stories and tales in forms of drawings whereas many “sutras” and “mantras” can be seen in written forms in several scriptures. Ranjana lipi, Nepal bhasa (bhujimol and litumol), Kunmol, Kwenmol, golmol, Panchumol, Hinmol are few of such nepali scripts.

There is a lot more work and findings to do in the nepali manuscript and artefact scene as well as publish more significant writings upon the existing resources. If you would like to read more of such manuscripts, here are a few links.

https://eap.bl.uk/project/EAP1023

https://www.academia.edu/4128593/In_Search_of_the_Oldest_Nepalese_Manuscript

https://eap.bl.uk/project/EAP272

http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/ancientnepal/pdf/ancient_nepal_148_03.pdf

https://www.library.upenn.edu/collections/special-notable/groups/south-asian-manuscript-collection

http://asianart.com/articles/tamsuks/

http://narchives.gov.np/news.aspx?nid=22\

https://kathmandupost.com/opinion/2019/02/26/perfection-of-art

JAHRU HITI

“Jahru Hiti” (newari) or “Dhungedhara” (nepali) meaning water reservoirs surrounded by stones are structures that date back to the 7th century. Jahru meaning water collected in sanskrit and hiti meaning an architectural structure, these water reservoirs were not only built traditionally for the purpose of drinking water but also hold a lot of cultural and religious significance.

Numerous number of such jahruhiti structures can be seen today in function in several communal places of Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Lalitpur. Jahru hitis are exceptional architectural structures and have a definitive portrayal of nepali architects since the 7th century. There are mostly three types of “jahru hitis” seen. These structures have gods and deities, hymns mantras intricately carved onto the surrounding stones also making these places holy where worshipping is done too. We worship many of nature in our culture and water being a vital element to mankind such hitis also are venerated signifying the availability of water.

These structures  may even today rely upon it for water. These structures have been built with natural materials such as a special type of black mud, sand ,charcoal. which ensure no water leakage and proper filtration of the direct drinking water that were linked to natural water resources. But today, the modern approach to these structures are pipelines connected to the municipal water supplies. The maintenance of such hitis have always had issues since it’s formations, many implications were bought but none of it seem to have been continued for long. We ourselves must hence maintain such leftover structures that we see today that were from centuries ago.

Visit up on your local hitis and learn more about it, take initiatives of it’s maintenance, inform the respective authorities responsible. Here are a few links you can look up upon to learn about such hitis.

Dhungedhara

RADIO NEPAL

During the Rana regime, radio providing and listening was introduced in Nepal. After the introduction of radio in the neighbouring country India, nepalese started tuning to the neighbouring indian radio stations and the circle of radio listeners began. Despite the introduction of radio listening, later before the beginning of radios listening, the regime put in laws hence nobody was allowed to own a radio set without a permit. Radio Nepal was established in 1951 after the abolishment of the regime, during the beginning of the panchayati kaal being the first ever radio service provider of the country.

 Slowly after the establishment of Radio Nepal is when the radio listening culture started thriving in parts of nepal. Radio Nepal began broadcasting programs that were merely focused on strengthening the monarchy, promote the panchayati system. Radio’s were present on a communal basis where one could go and listen to the political updates of the country, election results were announced, the panchayati system was embraced via such programmes. Radio nepal became a prominent source for the spreading and sharing of information in the country. Later not only was information and political scenarios shared but also entertainment shows started being broadcasted.

Even today, the iconic radio nepal can be tuned into on 100Mhz and various shows are broadcasted. Radio Nepal has an incredible history of various broadcasted shows, special events and a beautiful collection of music played. The existing archive is incredible but has missing pieces of a puzzle, we hope for a full pieced growing archive puzzle while it also being available to us public who are interested to peep into.

Here is a brief and insightful in depth overview of radio Nepal.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/251289342_Seven_Decades_of_Radio_Listening_in_Nepal

ARNIKO- THE GREAT

Arniko was born in 1245 in Kathmandu during the ruling of King Abhaya Malla an exceptional child born artist also seen as a national figure in the nepali history . While Nepalese history does not have any record of Arniko, everything that is known of him comes from Chinese accounts.

As is often told in stories about professional artists, Arniko was an artistic prodigy even in his early childhood. An anecdote from his epitaph relates that when he was three years old, his parents took him, Arniko, to a temple to pay homage to the Buddha. Looking up at a stupa, he asked “who made its wooden stambha, bhumis, anda?”. Greatly surprised, the people around realized that he was a born artist. Before he left Nepal for Tibet, he was already an expert in painting, modeling, and casting images.

Arniko is one such figure who has shaped the history of nepali architecture. Some of those architectural structures can still be seen in its evolved forms. Not only did he have hands on the nepali architecture but his work can be seen in parts of south asia such as Tibet, Mongolia, indonesia. Arniko is not only an admired significant figure in Nepal but also he can be seen mentioned in China and their art and architectural history.

We can see many places, structures and constructions where the great Arniko has been honoured.

DANPHE

Danfe, the brightly coloured bird also known as the Himalayan Monal belongs to the genus lophophorus. These beautiful 70 cm long birds reside at the peaks of the Himalayas. This rare sighting bird is the national bird of Nepal; they have significant reflections of our country. The multi coloured feathers of the bird represents the diversity of cultures in our country. Already present in reduced numbers, they are currently marked under the endangered list. These birds require attentive conservation and an end has to be implied in poaching to prevent their extinction.

To know more about these majestic colourful birds and learn about how to help in conservation, here are a few links.

https://anilblonnepal.wonational-bird-of-nepal-danphe

http://dnpwc.gov.np/en/species-detail/

http://hkhconservationportal.icimod.org/Species/Species.aspx?SpeciesID=162875

PAST HISTORIES

The people of Chetti and Ghajir villages in Darchula district of West Nepal are recognized as gatekeepers of the holy site of Surma Sarovar Lake. Surma Sarovar Jatra, a six-day long festival is celebrated in even-numbered years of the Nepali Calendar, welcoming pilgrims with their traditional dances, instruments and feasts.

BELLS