Craft in Architecture: Metal

Craft in Architecture: Metal

The gilded roofs and finials of the temples and palaces in the Kathmandu Valley were created by the metal processing method of repoussé - that is, the beating out of forms and images from the reverse side of sheet metal. This method was also employed to make gilt copper overlays for carved wood in shrines such as Kwa Baha in Lalitpur, and at Changu Narayan.

By the 7th century, at the latest, the artists of the Kathmandu Valley had mastered the arts of repoussé and also of inlay with semi-precious stones: this is proved by the inscriptions of the extensive use of metal for the beautification of temples and palaces. None of this remains, but it seems certain that many motifs and techniques date back at least this far - Chinese accounts mention water pouring from the mouth of a golden makara, a sight that may still be seen today. The influence of Newar metalwork has been formative in Tibet and China.

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