© 2016 - Gary Wornell
Text and photography – Gary Wornell
Graphic design – Philippe Gueissaz
Publisher – Maahenki Oy
Printed by Bookwell, Porvoo 2016
COPPER CASTING 11
THANGKA PAINTING 29
COPPER FORMING 61
SILK THANGKA 123
In 2012 I took part in the Kathmandu International Arts Festival and lived for
a month in Patan on the south side of Kathmandu where so many of the craft
workshops featured in this book are located. Everywhere you go in Patan there
is evidence of craft; workshops line the streets, and the sounds of hammering metal
and chipping wood fill the air. Golden statues, wooden and stone carvings, textiles,
jewellery, thangkas and religious artifacts are everywhere. It is an intoxicating world
of work done by hand.
My first profession was ceramics. From childhood I had a fascination with clay and
after leaving university I established my studio on the east coast of England. For 25
years I worked in that studio, a place not unlike the ones in this book. The shelves
were lined with new ideas gestating, old ideas as inspiration, found objects and
raw materials. For many years I worked with porcelain, that finest of white clays
so familiar with the traditions of the East. But soon I started working with red clays,
the natural clays of England, with a strong desire to explore and discover another
world. Each material has its own qualities, its own language of form, its own spirit
and it is the skill of the craftsperson to find that language and connect to that spirit.
The fine white of porcelain that dusted the shelves and surfaces of my studio eventually
became the red dust of terracotta and during that transition I felt a deep
satisfaction from taking a leap into the unknown and finding my way. When the kiln
was opened after a firing and the pots emerged for the first time, I had the feeling
that the gods had played a part in their creation; the intense heat transforming the
cold clay into objects of beauty. The gods in my world were not the gods of a particular
religion or belief. They represented only a level of awareness; an intimacy
and knowledge of the materials I was using, and an intuitive understanding of why
things turn out the way they do. There are no short cuts to be taken in craft. From
beginning to end it requires a full commitment. Awareness is the key.
It takes decades to develop hand-craft skills. Each craftsperson I encountered in
Nepal has been through a long period of training – and an even longer period of
making. The basic techniques used in these studios are much the same as they have
been for hundreds of years. The tools are much the same. In some cases power
tools have replaced the hand tools saving time, but for the most part the artisans
work as their ancestors did – just with their hands and the tools they have made
themselves with knowledge passed on from one generation to the next.
In early 2013 I began working as visual consultant on a Finnish bilateral environmental
monitoring project and continued this work in the spring of the following
year. During that time I had the opportunity to travel to the east and west of Nepal
and saw the evidence of craft in every community. In each village people created
objects using available local materials.
I started photographing in the late autumn of 2014 during a three-month stay in
Kathmandu. My first idea was to create a series of craft based articles for magazines.
These would be visual stories about the intimate working spaces of craftsmen
and women who lived their lives immersed in their craft, undisturbed by the flow of
visitors wandering the streets of the capital. As I began to work, this idea changed
and Treasure of Nepal began to take shape.
I talked with my two friends, Shailaja Kasaju and Anmol Bajracharya and in a few
days they had a list of workshops in the Kathmandu valley and a rough timetable
put together for us to start. It was their work that made this project a reality; Shailaja’s
comprehensive knowledge of the city and the people working in these crafts and
Anmol’s logistics and assistance with lighting gave me access to places no tourists
have ever been. We travelled the length and breadth of the valley – the two of them
on Anmol’s motorbike and me on my bicycle following close behind.
By January 2015 we had discovered an endless source of workshops and factories
in the valley. I soon realized that this would take much longer than anticipated. I
had not only been photographing the craft work of these people, but I had also
been welcomed into their communities with such hospitality that we ate and drank
together, hiked together, and went to the temples together when they prayed.
On April 25, 2015 I was in my apartment in Sukedhara in the east of Kathmandu
editing a video when the earthquake struck. The impact of that event had a profound
effect on me. It initiated a paradigm shift in my thinking, and brought me
closer to the Nepalese and their plight. Work on this project stopped suddenly. Studios
and workshops collapsed and many lost workers and family. The photography
continued in late 2015 and was completed in spring of 2016. During that time I
managed to photograph some two dozen studios in the Kathmandu valley.
The work in this book covers both secular and religious crafts. It is hard to draw
a line between them because each craft is connected to the religious and spiritual
context of the Nepalese culture. The diversity of the work, the skills, the objects that
emerge from these activities provide us with a comprehensive picture of the Nepalese
and their lives at a time when technology is transforming the country into a
Social, economic and environmental changes in Nepal are taking place at a rapid
pace. Education is providing opportunities to more and more young people in
Nepal. Illiteracy is becoming a thing of the past. The Internet exposes children to a
world that their parents were unaware of when they began their vocations. The life
choices of the young are expanding and many are migrating to developed countries
to pursue careers that are not possible at the moment in Nepal. The children
of uneducated craftspeople see the world very differently to the way their parents
do and they face difficult community choices in leaving the family tradition behind.
In the next two decades skilled workers in their prime will get old and retire and
there will be fewer and fewer people to replace them. Tradition runs very deep in
this nation; customs and values will not change overnight, but the craftspeople in
small workshops that are scattered around the Kathmandu valley will inevitably face
challenges as new technologies replace the work of their hands.
It’s 4:00 am and under the thick blanket on my bed I can hear sounds coming
from the yard below my window. These January days start cold. It’s pitch black
outside and I can see my breath as I shuffle into my jeans and head for the
bathroom across the hall. The house is waking and Pradiip Maharjan is already up
and has disappeared down the stairs to start the fires. Today he is casting copper
– months of delicate wax carvings buried underneath clay and cow dung moulds –
strange shapes that bear little relation to the forms inside.
Outside I find Pradiip and another worker crouched at different ends of the rough
brick kiln. The top is open; flames are starting to lick against the inside walls from
the fires underneath. All around the base long wooden planks are sticking out of
the fireboxes and a bright orange glow is crackling as the heat intensifies. I ask him
if all is going well and he nods and smiles. Smoke rises above the kiln, drifts up to
the high corrugated iron roof and drifts into the Kathmandu morning sky. The sun is
rising and the dogs are barking.
Pradiip’s wife comes out with a flask of hot spicy milk tea and deep fried Sel roti –
an oily doughnut shaped rice flour sweet. We drink together and talk about the day
ahead. The yard is busy with workers starting their chores; some are here for the
casting, some to tend the fires and one man, the metal expert is in charge of mixing
the metals melting in the furnace.
Pradiip has been creating these statues for 15 years – 6 of those in this house he
built himself. He started this work because he knew he could develop the skills to
make the sculptures and the profession had a good reputation for making money.
His first year was a real challenge though and he even considered changing profession
at some point, but didn’t want to waste a year of his time so he took additional
training and improved his skills.
A wax model being created of Mañjusri, the oldest and most significant
bodhisattva in Mahayana literature.
He has a team of craftspeople working in different studios around the Kathmandu
valley engaged in various stages of production. He makes the works only by commission;
people send photographs of existing sculptures or pictures of old thangkas
and specify the size and finish they want. From these 2-dimensional images Pradiip
and his workers create full-scale clay models following the precise shape and proportions
of the ancient figures. Fibreglass moulds are then created from the clay
forms and from these the hot wax components are made before being assembled.
The larger works can take up to 5 months from the modelling of the clay to the delivery
of the completed piece, involving around 15 craft workers from start to finish.
Inside the house there is the smell of burning paraffin as his workers heat iron tools
to melt the pieces together. Two craftsmen sit by the gas burner in front of a pot of
melting wax. Dozens of formed objects surround them; heads, lotus leaves, body
parts ready for assembly. On the floor there is a large Buddha covered in fine ornamentation
and a worker is applying a bracelet to the upper arm with a hot iron.
The dark brown material glistens as it melts, then cools as the armband is held in
place. Motifs are added piece by piece to the form – a work this size can take several
months before it is ready for casting.
Outside in the yard I see Pradiip’s mother come from the house; a small dish in her
hand with a candle, red Poinsettia leaves, and some red and yellow powder – an
offering to the gods to bless the casting of these religious works. The ground is
blessed; the wood used for firing is blessed and so too is the kiln. She walks around
the yard, goes over to the kiln and as Pradiip stokes the fire she places a few leaves
on the corrugated tin sheets that have been placed over the flames and blesses the
coming day’s work.
By 7am the fire is raging – the bright red moulds are smoking as the wax melts
inside. At small outlets at the base the molten material is pouring into pots for re-
Left: An armband is applied to a wax model of Mañjusri by a craftsman at
Pradiip’s Stupa Handicrafts workshop.
Top: Cow dung, clay and rice husks are applied to a wax model before
metal, he is in regular demand and travels around the country for months on end
before returning to his home in India.
When the works leave the carvers they are taken back to Patan where they are polished,
buffed and prepared for gilding. As the rest of the city rushes home in the
evening, the workshops dependent on electricity make use of the intermittent supply
for their power tools. Power cuts and load shedding are so common and irregular
that the factories have to work whenever the supply returns. The factory Pradiip uses
is down a narrow passage, not far from his own workshop off a main road on the
south side of Patan. Access is down narrow steps, into a muddy lane and through
an unmarked metal gate. If you hadn’t been there before it would be impossible to
From the outside the building looks like a cow shed, which it probably was at some
point; roughly thrown together with sheet metal and brick walls. One very dim fluorescent
light barely throws enough illumination into the room to see to the other
end and I wondered just how difficult it must be for these workers to see what they
are doing. It is hard to imagine that the final destination of the sculptures scattered
about on the floor inside will be monastery or temple when you see the rough journey
they have taken from wax casting to this point.
Inside the dimly lit room the body of a large copper Buddha sits headless in the
lotus position. The creation of the heads seems to be a special art of its own, and
on the larger figures these are often welded in place when most of the other work is
done. You can always weld a hand back on and attach a broken piece of clothing,
but the head is the thing that the client examines first and its expression and quality
determine the value of the piece as a whole.
The man in charge of buffing was on his mobile when I arrived. His leather jacket
echoed the clothing on the headless Buddha in front of me and even the colour
was the same. A giant single-phase electric motor attached to a plank of wood was
Right: A craftsman uses a small hammer and chisel to carve fine detail into
the copper casting.
Top: The team of carvers and finishers take a break in the afternoon sun
from their working day with family.
Newly cast bronze dorjes in a small factory in Kapan, Kathmandu.
Cast bells in a Hindu temple in Bhaktapur.
Ram Krishna Prajapati’s gilding workshop is at the top of his 5 storey house
on a back street of Patan. I had bicycled across town from my apartment
in Lazimpat earlier in the morning – camera bags, helmet and a facemask
strapped on tight against the toxic fumes from the heavy morning traffic. I had decided
to put on my Arctic down jacket and leather gloves against the cold. January
nights can get really icy in Kathmandu and when I started out, even with the gloves
on, I was freezing. Freezing in Kathmandu doesn’t compare with the freezing I left
behind in Finland – my first winter away from the snow in more than a decade.
I’m curious to see Ram’s place and Pradiip Maharjan, the sculptor, has arranged to
take me. Everywhere you go in Nepal you find gold. Every temple, every monastery
has statues of gods both Hindu and Buddhist. The lines between these two religions
seem to be fuzzy at the edges, especially in Nepal and the Nepali’s I have met don’t
bother much with the details. In any case gold is the metal of the gods and deities
and it is used in its purest 24-carat form.
Once I’m over the Bagmati River the worst is behind me, and the ride through the
old city is always a joy. I navigate the cramped streets lined with shops selling thangka
and tee-shirts and stuff for the tourists, past Patan Durbar square with its brick
paved roads and ancient temples and through the narrow alleyways down the hill
towards the ring road. By the time I reached Pradiip’s house I am sweating underneath
the layers as the day has suddenly turned warm in the bright sun.
Cycling is by far the fasted way to get around town. Kathmandu traffic doesn’t
obey any rules and horns are used more than direction indicators to clear the path
ahead. Given the density of the traffic in the early morning, the horn doesn’t help
much, but that doesn’t seem to deter the drivers from using them. Between the
Right: The gold coating comes to its full lustre after the mixture containing
mercury is heated with a blowtorch. Here the craftsman is inspecting the
finish after the firing has been completed.
motorcycles, scooters, cars, lorries and public transport vehicles – oh, and random
jaywalkers – it can be a pretty hazardous journey from one side of town to another.
On the south side of Patan the small roads are mostly clear and in minutes I’m
opening the corrugated iron gate to Stupa Handicrafts and Pradiip’s house. Anmol
and Shailaja are already there having tea and soon we head off with Pradiip on two
motorbikes to Ram’s workshop.
The lane where Ram lives and works is too narrow for parking, so we stop around
the corner and happen upon him and a couple of his workers with a life size statue
of a god in the lotus position, outside a welder’s having some small repairs done.
The bright gold of the god looks surreal in the intense sunlight, steam rising from
the heated metal as he pours cold water on the join. He inspects the work, says
something in Nepali and he and the men promptly pick up the statue and return to
When we arrive at the steps to the house, someone is already waiting at the window
on the second floor and throws the door key down to us on a long string. It dangles
in front of the lock, and after we let ourselves in the key disappears up in the air and
through the window.
Ram has been a gilder for more than twelve years now. Before he learned the craft
he had kept a grocery shop locally. It was his wife who had practiced the craft and
soon after they got married he began to learn it and quickly developed a passion
for the fine art of gilding. For a few years the two of them worked together until the
business began to pick up. Their work stood out from the others – quality and finish
were well above the competition, and soon he was employing 5 craftsmen, then 7
and now he has 15 people working for him.
Left: Detail of the fine carving and polishing on a large copper casting. Soon
it will be taken to another workshop where the face will be painted with
brushed-on gold and the eyes and lip details added.
Top: 24 carat gold is cut into thin strips prior to mixing with mercury.
Inside Rabindra Shakya’s Image Atelier, the dark copper face of a Buddha towers
above me standing more than four meters high on a steel frame. The eyes,
half closed, stare at a space on the floor relaxed and in meditation. The workshop
is the largest I have seen in Nepal: a hollow three story high building in brick
and reinforced concrete. A spiral staircase in one corner leads up to a series of
narrow concrete walkways lined with copper sheets, parts of sculptures and poster
prints of assorted deities. Below, the floor is covered in copper sculptures in various
states of completion.
The noise of hammering is intense – metal on metal – sharp to the ear competing
with the Hindi pop songs from the radio. At the entrance to the workshop craftsmen
sit on wooden benches, their backs to the light, absorbed in their work, partly
formed objects propped against polished steel formers. Rabindra’s brother is working
on a large rectangular copper plinth, drilling holes into the bright metal and offering
up small, carved copper details to check their fit. A woman with a grass brush
walks across the open spaces sweeping up the dust as the sun streams in through
the high windows from the south.
Rabindra comes from a long family tradition of metal workers. He learned his skills
in small cramped rooms on the ground floor of the family home where his father
and brothers worked. In my journeys around Kathmandu, I had discovered many
of these small workshops, shutters opened to the street, workers sitting on the floor
crouched over and tapping into metal sheet. Stacks of copper lined the walls, black
pitch in well-worn kettles smoked on gas burners. On cooler winter days they would
sit outside on the street in the bright sun, fingerless woollen gloves keeping their
hands warm, working until the light faded. Electricity is always in short supply in
Right: A large beaten copper statue sits in the corner of Rabindra’s workshop
in Patan, Kathmandu.
Kathmandu and I have often thought how this shortage of power has contributed
to the preservation of these handcrafts. There are always younger boys standing
around, engaged in conversation, laughing, learning – watching the hammer and
chisel pick out the details, line by line. Apprentices often work from home. They have
a chance to prove themselves on the smaller works before they can get a place in a
studio like Image Atelier.
Rabindra’s workshop has been handed down from one generation to the next creating
both Buddhist and Hindu sculptures for temples and monasteries as well as
for private customers. They practice the traditional craft of Thodya (embossing in
metal sheet) Majha (giving complete form) as it is called in Newari or repoussé as
it is called here in the West. In Thodya Majha larger metal sheet is worked from the
front and back against formers, and for the smaller details the chasing method is
used from the front of the object supported by a hardened pitch mould.
After the earthquake in 2015 not much had changed at least to the workshop and
the works in progress as far as I could see. The craftsmen took time off to return
to their villages and rebuild temporary housing for their families as well as helping
out with relief work in the neighbouring communities. I made several visits from late
2014 to 2016 leaving my home in the north east of the city by bicycle or scooter
along the busy ring road; a journey of about ten kilometres south to Patan. It was
always an adventure.
The roads, before the quake, had been undergoing construction – an incomplete
section of dual carriageway seemed to be years in the making, and after the quake
huge gaps had appeared cutting across the tarmac through the landscape to precarious
leaning and cracked houses on the roadside. There were places where the
surface had risen by half a metre. Temporary dirt ramps had opened up the road
again but traffic was bottlenecked in several places where four lanes were squeezed
Left: The head of a large copper Buddha made using the traditional repoussé
Top: Two workers discuss the construction of the base of a copper statue.
काठ क ुद ्न े
Ratnamani Bramhacharya’s home and workshop is tucked away on a hillside
in the village of Bungamati in Lalitpur on the southern side of Kathmandu.
It’s December and the days are cool and bright. Anmol, Shailaja and I met
Ratna at his small shop in Patan and followed him over the busy ring road and out
into the green countryside to Bungamati. This area is known for woodcarving –
every household has some connection to the craft. Village shops line the streets and
people are sitting out on steps in the sun, dogs wander lazily across the road and
chickens scamper to safety as we pass. Here the air is clean and fresh and rice fields
are dotted between the new concrete buildings and the older houses.
Ratna has been working for over 30 years and has practiced more than a dozen
crafts. His family profession was tailoring and it was through them that he became
interested in craft. His family came from Tilaurakot; a direct line of descent from
his family to the Buddha’s. It was this family connection that inspired him to create
religious works and by the time he was 12, Ratna had visited temples and watched
the work of other craftsmen, spending the early days of his childhood listening to
historians and people who told him the tales surrounding the old temple’s gods
and goddesses. Gradually he moved to working with wood; here in Bungamati
everyone understands wood. It is only through the shared interest of community that
craftsmen can flourish. With all the work he and his workers have, it is not easy to
make a living.
We enter the property through the low wooden doorway of an old brick building,
past a dark passage and out again into the bright sunlight to Ratna’s home and
workshop – a fairly recent 5-story house built into the side of a hill. The house is
built as separate rooms accessed by walkways and staircases open to the air and I
Right: Carvings are often created in relief, referencing old photographs when
there are no physical models available. The images are so familiar to these
craft workers than they can translate the two dimensional representation into
three dimensions, drawing on years of practice.
wondered what it must be like moving around from one room to another on cold
winter days when the wind is blowing. We are invited up to the second floor, passing
stacks of drying wood on the way. Shailaja and Anmol talk with Ratna in Nepalese.
Shailaja has been teaching me Nepali a few times a week and the sounds are becoming
familiar to me – in fact I’ve been able to read the signs on shops and notice
boards with increasing success, but listening to their conversation I’m lost.
The room is unpainted concrete – somehow beautiful in its raw simplicity, and is
furnished with some of Ratna’s intricately carved tables, a sofa, some chairs, a cupboard
and a bed. We sit talking for a while, Shailaja translating the conversation
as Ratna tells me how he ended up as a wood carver, and what he loves about the
Inside the workshop a broad shaft of sunlight streams through the dusty window.
Two women sit cross-legged on straw mats by the door, and a row of men sit on a
raised concrete platform chipping away at small wooden blocks. In the middle of
the room there is a large piece of Kapur Camphor. The wood for this 5-foot high
god has been drying for the last 8 years and as Ratna sits with his wooden mallet
and steel chisel hammering away, the strong smell of camphor permeates the air.
This sculpture will take him 5 months to complete.
Ratna’s time is divided between the shop in Patan and here in Bungamati where his
family live. In town he works with his wife inside the shop, greeting customers as they
pass by, offering them tea and chatting while he chips away at the wood at his feet.
Here in this quiet village he can work with the other workers without distractions.
Each worker seems to be in meditation. They sit huddled in their warm jackets,
holding the wood steady with their feet, toes acting like vices, easily released and
gripped again as the wood turns. A large mandala is being intricately carved. Half
a dozen fine steel chisels lie on the surface and the carver alternates between them
Left: A large carving of a Buddha made from Kapur Camphor will take 5
months to complete.
Top: Carved objects in various states of completion sit on the floor of Ratna’s
workshop in Bungamati, Lalitpur.
ढ ुङ्गा क ुद ्न े
In an open space in Bhol Doka down near the ring road on the outskirts of
Kathmandu there is a large dry field surrounded by brick shacks and four story
houses with walled gardens. The shadows are softened today by a faint cloud
covering and haze in the air. Laundry is hanging over balconies and strung between
iron poles on the rooftops in the morning sun. Open areas this size are rare in
the city. Some young boys are making use of the space: scattered about in small
groups kicking sand-coloured footballs about in their flip-flops. Their voices are
faint against the sounds of hammer and chisel chipping away at blocks of stone in
a far corner of the field.
A man sits on a rice straw mat placed on a large stone, hammer in one hand and
chisel in the other, scattered fragments of stone forming a carpet around him. I’m
drawn to the sound. As I approach, he looks up at me; the thin wisps of hair on his
upper lip and his tinted sunglasses are powdered with grey dust. He smiles. Behind
him a large torso of Buddha sits on the gravel, stone chips on the ground, bowl
in hand, the outline of a robe cut across the chest. To one side, another carver sits
astride the head, working his chisel chip by chip through the curls of hair.
In Patan these sounds of the carvers can also be heard coming from a few small
workshops nested in amongst the corner shops and grocery stores. Inside a small
room two men sit bent over grey stones propped up on wooden blocks on either
side of the door that opens to the street. Light streams in from the south. Outside,
women carrying straw baskets walk by and dogs lie in the dust next to the teashop.
This is Ashoke Bajracharya’s place.
It’s hard work carving gods and as in many of the religious crafts in Nepal it requires
a deep understanding of the scriptures. You need to know them intimately.
Right: At one end of a field in Patan, a stone carver works on
the base of a statue.
These are not just skilled craftsmen. They have studied the texts and the early carvings
in the temples of the city. Carving isn’t just about the ability to create forms from
a block of stone. The meaning behind each gesture, each object being held, each
ornament must be understood before work begins. There is a strict geometry to follow.
Traditional proportions are observed, but in the end the work must go beyond
the material world and into another: one occupied by the gods and goddesses of
the Buddhist and Hindu faiths.
Ashoke has been working more than twenty-five years. He didn’t come from a family
of craftsmen but learned instead from his neighbours. He grew up in a community
of stone carvers and started learning the craft in his early teens. Soon it became his
I watched Ashoke as he worked on the face of a small statue. It was nearing completion.
Beside him a fine line drawing marked out in a grid defined the proportions
of the deity, the centre line passing through the middle of the lotus base and another
line following the angle of the head. Every detail had been carved into the stone,
smooth and refined, an exact copy of the work on paper. Everything was complete
except the face – a strange caricature of flat planes defining the eyes, nose and
mouth. His hammer and chisel delicately worked around the head, a bit off here,
and a bit off there. Millimetre by millimetre the stone changed shape. It would be
hours of the artist sitting bent over in deep concentration before it was finished.
Somewhere in his mind Ashoke held a picture, a three dimensional image of this
face, of the meaning, the voice of this god and the story from the scriptures, working
his tools into the stone to reveal what was in his mind.
Ashoke later explained that the hardest part of the work is the face and on these
small sculptures it can take more than a day to carve. The face carries the emotion,
Left: a craftsman uses a power grinder to smooth the carved face.
Top: A worker uses a power tool to attach a hand to the arm of a Buddha.
Prayer beads and antique thangka, Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu.
Coloured threads on a Peepal tree - the Tree of Life.
रेसमको थान ्का
On the 8th of December 2014, Anmol, Shailaja and I met Sunny at the
entrance to Boudhanath Stupa for a trip up into the hills toward Pullahari
Monastery. I had come from Lazimpat by bicycle: a journey that took me
past the Finnish Embassy and down the hill across the stream at Bhatkekopul-Kalopul
Road, through a maze of winding streets.
Bicycling around Kathmandu is exhilarating, partly because of the city landscape
and partly because it is an extreme sport of sorts. Traffic is unpredictable and the
roads can resemble rivers during the monsoon. They can have gaping holes that
weren’t there yesterday or suddenly become a stage with hundreds of participants
taking part in a celebration making passage nearly impossible.
My bicycle was in need of better brakes and it wasn’t until I turned a corner down
a narrow lane and collided head on with a taxi that I decided it was now time to
do something about them. Neither the taxi nor I sustained any damage beyond my
acute embarrassment and the driver thought it somehow amusing. I picked myself
up smiling into the gathering crowd, brushed the dust from my jeans, and rode off
to my meeting.
Sunny had arranged to take us to see Nurpu Lama Sherpa, a textile craftsman creating
thangkas sewn from silk. I parked the bike and locked it to an iron railing to
retrieve after the shoot. The main gate of the Stupa is always busy with taxis, tourists,
and Nepalis offering to guide, as well as streams of local inhabitants. Boudha is
packed with people whatever the time of day and the dust kicked up from the traffic
is thick enough to see the particulate glistening in the bright sunlight like snowflakes
in a blizzard. Despite the pollution in Kathmandu, there is something compelling
Right: Before a sewn thangka can be made, full size drawings are traced and
the shapes transferred to silk for stitching.