Essential for both the traveller and scholar alike. Nepal fills a long dorment gap in the literature of this spectacular region and is a product of many years of individual research by scholars of Nepal's history, religion, art and sociology. It draws on a variety of authoritative studies of Nepal's cultural history that have been published in Europeon and Nepalese languages.
The guide begins with an overview of the history of Nepal. This focuses on the Kathmandu Valley, with its rich and sophisticated culture, but also outlines developments of historical importance outside the valley. This is followed by a detailed introduction to religion as it is practised in Nepal: here, the focus is on Hinduism and Buddhism, and on the major deities of each tradition, their relationship to one another, and their representation in art and sculpture.
There are also introductory chapters on the main forms of architecture and the principal art forms: painting, stone sculpture, metalcasting and woodcarving.
The second part of the book consists of in –depth descriptions of specific sites within the Kathmandu Valley, each written by a scholar who has a long and intimate acquaintance, with the temples, palaces, stupas and other monuments he or she describes. The book is copiously illustrated with photographs in monochrome and colour, and contains maps and line –drawings. There is a chronology and a full glossary of Nepali, Newari and Sanskrit terms.
Although writtern mainly by academics, the book is intended for a general readership. Easily portable in format, Nepal does not tell the reader where to stay, what to eat or what to wear. It will though help those who wish to appreciate the cultural splendours of Nepal in their historical and religious context and require more information than is imparted by the avrerage tourist guidebook.
About The Author
Michael Hutt is Lecturer in Nepali in the School of Oriental and African Studies. University of London. His publications include Nepali: a National Language and its Literature (London and New Delhi 1988). Himalayan Voices. An introduction to Modern Nepali Literature (Berkeley, 1991) and Nepali in the Nineties: Versions of the Past, Visions of the Future(New Delhi, 1993).
David Gelinar is Lecturer in Social Anthropology at Brunel University in West London. His publications include Monk, Householder and Tantric Priest. Newer Buddhism and its Hierarchy of Ritual (Cambridge 1993) and (with Decian Quigley) Newer Society: Caste and the Social Order in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, (Cambridge forthcoming 1995).
Axel Michaels is Director of the Seminar Fur Religionswissenschaft in the University of Bern, Switzerland. His publications include Ritual and Geselleschaft in Indian (1986). Tirtha and Pithader nepalische Pasupatinatha and sein Umfeld, The Making of a Statue: Lost Wax Casting in Nepal (Stuttgart,1998) and Heritage of the Kathmandu Valley (ed., with Niels Gutschow).
Greata Rana is a poet and novelist who works as an editor for the International Centre for integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu.
Govinda Tondon works for the Pashupati Kshetra Bikas Samiti (Pashupati Area Development Committee) in Kathmandu.
This book is the result of an initiative taken by Paul Strachan of Kiscadable Publications, who first approached the editor in 1990. It aims to provide the customs traveller with an introducation to the art and architecture of what has been termed the 'heart of Nepal' –the Kathmandu Valley. It will not tell you where to stay, what to eat or what to wear. Instead, it aims to explain and describe the extraordinary cultural efflorencene that took place in Nepal over many centuries, and to direct the visitor to some of the most important sites and monuments. Although it is not a large county, Nepal conatains a number of different cultures and traditions. No one book focuses on specific aspects of the culture of the Kathmandu Valley, and on selected sites within it, without pretending in any way to present a comprehensive treatment of the subject. Nonetheless, these descriptions, of places, temples and stupas in the Kathmandu Valley are rather more detailed than those that appear in any tourist guide.
The main problems faced by the editor of this kind of book are the spelling of Nepali, Newari and Sanskrit terms and the fact that many buildings and features have several different names. For instance, a town quarter is called tol in Nepali and tvah in Newari. In scholarly works, the convention is usually to adopt Sanskritic spellings, thus, Mahadeva, Kumbhesvara, etc. however, local people will often pronounce these names differently, primarily by dropping the final 'a'. The spellings adoted in this book are, with some important exceptions, midway between Sanskritic exactitude and pronouciation. That is, Kumbhesvara and Kumbhesvar, but not Kumbheswor. The exceptions are for words or names that are already well established in English: shiva's name, for instance, is often pronounced 'Shiv' in Nepal, and Avalokiteshvara may become'Avalokiteswor'. But the standard spellings of such names, which will be immediately familier to anyone who has read works on Hinduism and Buddhism, are retained here. A few guiding principles will assist the user of this book in the pronunciation of these names.
1. 'u' is pronounced like 'u' in 'put' or like the 'oo' in 'boot' but never like the 'u' in 'pun'.
2. 'e' is pronounced like the 'ay' in 'day', not like the 'e' in 'get'.
3. 'v' can be pronounced as 'b' or as 'w', e.g. Bhairav can be pronounced 'Bhairab', Vishnu 'Bishnu', and Maheshvar 'Maheshwar'.
4. Little distinction is made between 's' and 'sh' –the two sounds are almost interchangable . so vishnu's name can be pronounced 'Visnu' or even 'Bisnu'.
5. The cosnonents b,d,g,j,k,p,t, when followed by the letter'h', are aspirated or breathy. None of the languages of Nepal or North India possesses a sound similar to the 'th' in the English definite article ('the').
The editor of this book is the author of all sections that are not otherwise attributted; likewise, all photographs are his unless they are credited otherwise. The other photographs were taken by Simon Digby (SD); Mark Felsenthal (MF); David Gellner (DG); Herrod (BH); Axel Michels (AM); Julian Murray (JM); Stephen Ryan (SR); Shukra Sagar Shreshta (SSS); Bhai Ratna Vajracharya (BRV). I must express my deep gratitude to David Gellnar, Axel Michals, Greta Rana and Govinda Tandan for contributing to this book –and especially David Gellner, who offered many valuable points of advice. Gert Matthias Wegner made many helpful comments on an earlier draft of the Bhaktapur chapter. I must also acknowledge our debt to Niels Gutschow for many of the maps and figures, and to Krishna Chandra Devi Rana and the late Mohan Khaka for the photographs and watercolour of Keshar Mahal. My thanks also go to the management of Ratna Pustak Bhandar for their permission to reproduce drawings and maps from Wolfgang Korn's seminal study of traditional Newar architecture, and to Mukund Raj Aryal and Jal Krishna Shrestha for their assistance at the National Museum in Kathmandu and elsewhere.
Tribute should be paid to Mary Shepard Slusser, whose Nepal Mandala remains the primary source for any study of the cultural history of the Kathmandu Valley. I must also mention the kind assistance of the Research Committee of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and of the British Academy, which enabled me to visit Nepal on two occasions between 1990 and 1992. I am also grateful to Paul Fox, Susan Madigan, Claire Ivison and Catherine Lawrence of SOAS for their help with the photography, typing and cartography respectively.
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