Himalayan Art Resources

Nepal: Early Malla Period Sculpture

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During the Malla period, which spanned more then five hundred years (1200-1769), trade, agriculture, religion, and culture flourished in the Kathmandu Valley, fostering tremendous growth in the production of sacred art. The Malla rulers were enthusiastic patrons of both Hinduism and Buddhism, contributing to the construction of public buildings, palaces, shrines, temples, and objects of worship. The Newar people - the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley - came to dominate most forms of artistry during this time both within the valley and throughout the greater Himalayas. Newar artists were masters at portraying the spiritual world in their metal casting, woodcarving, clay and stone sculpting, and painting. Highly sought after, they traveled extensively throughout Asia, creating religious art for their neighbors. As a result, the Newar style, characterized by sensuous, youthful bodies, sharp facial features, and elegant ornaments and jewelry, became one of the most influential in Himalayan art.