The evolution of Nepalese handicraft cannot be said in precision. However, history can be traced back to the Stone Age when human beings were devoid of tools of any kind. Whereas the history of artistic handicraft only began during the 5th Century A.D, when different religions began to form their bases among the people of Nepal. We thus see a lot of religious influence on Nepalese handicrafts. Introduced by the Nordic Aryans, blended with different groups of Mongolians, nurtured by Buddhist and Hindu concepts and adapted to the taste of markets.
Crafts, which are the indigenous creations, convey the expressions of human beings. They tell us about nature and life. In fact, the world of art and craft is immense. What we know of the culture of human beings through centuries has come to us from surviving arts and crafts scattered like a crystal bowl thrown on marble. The pieces has to be collected to study and to know how arts and crafts developed in a particular area, since no one has collected or ever could study, the origin and the history of crafts remain vivid.
In reality, handicrafts reflect the pristine culture of a country. The fragments of vases and vessels unearthed from the banks of Indus, the carved metal bowls and colored tiles from Euphrates, the miniature wooden toys and gold ornaments from the bank of Nile reflect the culture of ancient times. Nepalese handicrafts combine culture and religious influence and thus remain superior to other creation of arts.
Till now hundreds of crafts have sprung forth in Nepal. They have become part of our heritage. Nepal has gained immense popularity in handicraft production. The age-old profession is not only a traditional means of livelihood of a small percentage of population but also reflects Nepal’s rich culture and people’s love for art since time immemorial. Nepalese handicraft, at present covers, but is not limited to: Bamboo Craft, Batik, Bead Craft, Bone/Horn Products, Ceramics, Dolls & Puppets, Ethnic Costumes, Hand Knitwear, Handmade Paper, Jewellery (Gold/Silver), Knot Craft, Leather Goods, Metal Craft, Musical Instruments, Peppier Mache, Specialized Fabric, Stone Craft, Thangka Painting, and Wood Carving.
They are exported to almost everywhere in the world including Europe and America where such artistic commodities are highly valued. According to the Handicraft Association of Nepal, Nepal is one of the major handicrafts exporters in the world. Apart from earning foreign currency, handicraft export will also help spread Nepal’s image in the world as a country that produces and preserves traditional art.
As the world is turning into global village, Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal is not behind leading in offering things globally sought. Though urbanization and modernization have taxed heavily on Kathmandu Valleys cultural, spiritual and theological values, it still retains its exclusive uniqueness particularly, in sphere of its handicrafts and religious crafts. Such handicrafts remain inspirational products of Hindu philosophy and Buddhist teachings. Metal carvings, wood carvings, stone carvings, sculptures, Thangka paintings, carpets, beads and pashmina shawls are some of the indigenous products which remain uniquely Nepali in origin and distinct from other crafts found elsewhere.