Punjya Traditional Newar Folk Art, by Sharada Chitrakar

Softcover, 136 pages, color illustrated, Kathmandu 2018, new

Kathmandu valley is not only beautiful with natural bounty, but several urban and suburban settlements have developed virtually as living museums with highly developed form of art and culture. Rulers have risen and fallen, but Kathmandu has flourished with glorious artistic traditions.

The valley is a good destination for study and research of traditional art and culture. Numerous festivities and 'ceremonies manifesting native identity are among the interesting subject matters that can be observed in the valley.

Together with them, there developed interesting forms of folk arts. They reflect various aspects of philosophy as the people realized in life.

Various ritual functions are being celebrated during the life time of individuals. Numerous religious processions and festivals are being celebrated collectively with zeal and passion, every year on definite dates. Newar communities play important role in preserving the tradition.

Folk arts play great role and have deep influence in their life. It is a matter of glory for the nation to demonstrate their works of folk arts to the world. However, there is still a dearth of adequate study on the subject of these folk arts.

Among the artists who are keeping the traditions alive, the Pun or Chitrakar (the painter artist) community plays a pivotal role. Almost every ritual or festival needs some special work of art painted by a Pun.

Newar folk art Punjya has its own distinct space in the glorious tradition of ancient Nepali art and culture. Newar community along with the Puns have played very important role in the development of this ancient art form.

With the changing socio-economic life of Newars, they are gradually losing interest in practicing the rituals and in observing festivities with the passion that the people practiced in the past. The number of artists practicing the traditional folk art are declining. There is high risk of this beautiful and rich cultural heritage of Punjya being lost in oblivion. It will be a great loss not only for the nation, but for the mankind.

Everybody interested in Nepal should study the contribution of folk artists to preserve and flourish the richness of the art and culture of its people.

There is dearth of literature on the subject of the Newar folk art Punjya. The importance of having an illustrated book on the subject of this traditional art form is being seriously realized. However, it is a very challenging task to meet the folk artists and collect sufficient materials come up with a book of substance and standard.

The present book is but an attempt to introduce the traditional folk art Punjya and explain the contributions in the field from Newar folk artist Pun.

The main objective of this book is to collect various samples of Punjya art, mention when they are used and explain their characteristics. It provides information about Pun or Chitrakar community in their contribution to Nepalese folk arts. Newar folk art punjya is not the sole property of only one community or caste. It is the common cultural heritage.

Thus, it is the time for all of us to rise to preserve this art.

In addition to punjya, which completes the identity of Pun artists, the brief introduction of other genres of folk arts like Paubha painting and mask are also included in the book.

This research mostly uses primary sources like the information collected from the direct interaction and interview with the senior Pun artists. The information on techniques and art materials are taken by visiting the working place or workshop of Punjya. Photographs of punjyas have been taken and in some cases, figures have been drawn by the researcher and explained when they are used for which religious ritual and purpose.

To give general introduction of Pun community, secondary sources like books, magazines and newspapers related to art and culture have been used. The study also uses the sources like published text related to Hindu and Buddhist deities and their iconology, the research papers on Pun community.

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