Craft in Architecture: Clay & Terracotta

Craft in Architecture: Clay & Terracotta


Visitors to the Kathmandu Valley will be likely to visit the exquisite terracotta shrine of the Maha Buddha in Lalitpur. It is believed that this shrine was built by the famed artist Abhaya Raj Sakya during the reign of Amar Malla, King of Lalitpur. The various forms of clay used in shaping the different images of the deities as well as the method of firing these images are said to have been recorded in a Vamshabali, a manuscript that is missing. Recent excavations carried out at Lumbini, Devadaha, and Tilaura Kot (all in the terai region of Nepal) have brought to light specimens of pottery (terracotta) of remarkable artistic workmanship, supposed to belong to the first and second centuries BC. Decorated bricks found at Taulihawa are considered to be as ancient. Temples, chaityas, and idols made of terracotta belonging to the Malla period display a remarkable degree of skill in the art of making terracotta bricks - the Nepal sambat, erected in the year 686, shows the exquisite terracotta workmanship of the Nepalese artisans. A lattice window and triumvirate done in terracotta in the typical Nepalese style at Chokhacheen (Bhaktapur) are supposed to be 250 years old. A big lamp-stand of clay - supposed to have been made in the year 865 N.S. during the reign of the Malla King, Rajya Prakash Mall - is exhibited every year on the full moon day of the month of kartik.

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