The handicrafts of Nepal are popular in the world for their superior quality, splendid workmanship and artistic quality.
The creativity of any form of art, craft, painting, belief, ritual, dance, and household items are unique. Handicrafts not only carry finest sensibility and artistic expression but also cultural conscience about the historical and religious significance of Nepal.
It is able to be out of sheer love for the way of life and itself of an alien social milieu, or our of pleasure to mark the occasion of having visited a particular area, or simply to preserve the flame of memory burning, souvenirs retained as souvenir play a essential role in the travel trends of human beings.
Pashmina: Pashmina are made from the tender fur of the Himalayan lambs and are popular for their natural color. Pashmina fabrics like shawls, mufflers, sweaters caps and winter wears are fashionable globally. It is more soft and warmer than the synthetic blended and artificially colored fabric. Among other places, the exceptional places to shop for Pashmina gadgets are New Road, Bhaktapur and Thamel in Kathmandu.
Paubha/Thanka: Paubha additionally referred to as Thanka are sacred scroll paintings depicting deities, icons and myths of Buddhist scriptures and cosmology .The painting is finished in cotton canvas, using gold, silver and stone pigment to create shiny impact. The scroll art work takes two to 6 months to finish the painting. Even though Pashmina are available in most touristic hubs, the high-quality places to buy those are Boudha, Thamel and Lalitpur.
Mithila painting: Mithila portray is shiny colorful art work with Maithali culture themes and motifs from the Terai region, southern part of Nepal. Sita, the perfect female and ideal spouse of Lord Ram from the popular Hindu epic of Ramayana, is said to have hailed from Mithila. Mithila woman were mostly engaged in the patronage of the Mithila artwork in Janakpur area. The painting depicts scenes of domestic’s rituals with spiritual services to gods and goddesses to keep off evil. Those worldwide popular paintings are available in the Janakpur and Dhanusha of Terai. The art work may also available at some of the tourist hubs in Kathmandu.
Lokta Paper: Lokta paper is made from the bark of a paper tree, called Argheli tree, found in hilly region of Nepal. The soft pulp obtained as a result of boiling, washing, and beating of the wooden fiber is spread in a wooden frame and dried in the sun before it is put to use. Stationery items, decorative items like lampshade and wall paper, wrapping paper, deliver baggage are famous gadgets fabricated from the lokta paper. Authentic official transaction especially in the government section is also done on this paper due to its durable nature. Lokta paper and paper products are available at tourist hubs like Thamel, Patan, Bhaktapur and the 3 Durbar Squares of Kathmandu valley.
Ceramics: Pottery is made usually from black clay both as sun-baked terracotta and glazed earthenware in furnace for attractive color and durability. Items of house hold needs like water jar, animal figure, deities and coin – container is also made of clay. Pottery and Nepali earthenware are found in different parts of the Kathmandu valley. Although there are quite a few places to buy ceramic ware in Kathmandu, it is recommended that you pay a visit to the pottery square in Bhaktapur and Thimi to observe the traditional ways of working on the wheel, for original designs, and for authentic buys.
Leather Accessories: Accessories made from goat skin and water buffalo leather are very popular. They are comfortable to use, affordable in price and easy to pack. Shoes, belts, jackets and wallets made of leather are worth buying.
Khukuri: Khukuri are curved knives used by the Gurkhas. The authentic Khukuri is made by the traditional ironsmith and represents the legendary Gurkhas. There are several places to buy in Kathmandu especially at the popular tourist hub of like Thamel and Bhaktapur. Khukur is from Bhojpur in the eastern part of Nepal are considered the most authentic among the different kinds.
Orthodox Tea: Ilam the hilly districts of eastern Nepal produces world famous tea. The Tea is wrapped in small pouch and packets and very suitable for providing as gifts. Packaged tea from different orthodox tea gardens in the country as well as international brands retaining the original flavor and aroma are available everywhere in Kathmandu or Pokhara .For a taste of fresh tea directly from the tea gardens; however a visit to the tea gardens in the eastern part of the country is recommended.
Spices: Nutmeg, ginger, saffron, mace, anise, fenugreek, black pepper, coriander seeds and other aromas are very popular flavor. Spices are essential part of the Nepali cooking and are available almost everywhere in Kathmandu and elsewhere. For variety and choice, however, a visit to the ancient alleys of Ason is highly recommended.
Garments and Knit wares: Garments like jackets, trousers, caps and embroidered T-shirts are very popular among shoppers. Similarly articles such as, pullovers, sweaters, mufflers, socks, legwarmers, bags, hats, are equally fashionable .These items are available in Thamel and heritage sites of Kathmandu valley and the tourist hubs in Pokhara.
Dhaka: Nepal is also popular for Dhaka cloth from which traditional Nepali clothes like Daura Surwal and Dhaka Topi (Nepai Cap) are made. The fabric of Dhaka made in Palpa district of Nepal is considered the best. The fabric is also available in Ason, Janabahal, Indrachowk areas and other cloth outlets in Kathmandu.
Fabrics: Fabrics of the finest kinds like chiffon, silk georgette, silk satin, and other similar fabrics made of rayan, polyester or mixed are available in various colors, shades and with different kinds of prints. Sharees, the traditional wear of the Nepali woman are also available in most places. Fine quality fabrics can be bought in Putalisadak, New Road and leading departmental stores and shopping malls in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Musical Instruments: Music plays a therapeutic role in the day to day existence of life surrounded by frequent hardship and occasional social revelry. To express the joys and sorrows of life Nepali people developed their own typical musical instruments like Sarangi (Nepali version of violin) Maadal (drum), Bansuri (flute), Murchunga, (typical instrument played by mouth) and Panchebaaja (fusion of five instruments), which are very popular. These musical instruments are available at the tourist hubs of Kathmandu and lake side of Pokhara.
Music: DVD’s, CD’s and cassettes the contain music of folk culture, culture, classical and sacred tunes of Nepal could also be a suitable choice for taking back home. Good quality CD’s , DVD’s and cassettes are available in tourist areas like New Road, Thamel, Kantipath in Kathmandu and in the Lake side area of Pokhara.
Glass Ornaments: Pote (glass beads necklaces) and Chura (glass bangles) are very popular ornaments among Nepalis. They are supposed to be worn by all married women. The dazzling Pote beads are also used in embroidery. Coming in various beautiful colors and shapes, pote and chura are popular shopping items for tourists as well .You can buy pote and chura in Ason and Indrachowk areas in Kathmandu. The items can also be bought in most other areas since these are the essential decorative ornaments of Nepalese women.
Jewelry and Gems: Necklaces, rings, ear ring and ornaments of gold, silver and semi precious stones are available in fine workmanship and priced less expensively than elsewhere. Ornaments of precious and semi precious in attractive designs and stones like sapphire, aquamarine, amethyst, ruby, garnet and tourmaline are available in superior quality. You may be able to see several shops exhibiting beautiful stone jewelry in Thamel, New Road, Durbar Marg and other tourist hubs of Kathmandu area and Mahendrapul and Lakeside area of Pokhara.
Metal wares: Metal carving is very popular in the Newar community of Kathmandu valley. Carving images of deities and divines and the dexterous chiseling on bronze and copper mould is one of the finest pieces of souvenirs. Beautifully carved replicas of temples and stupas, and decorative items like singing bowl, bell, cymbals, wine jar, cups etc are made of copper, bronze or brass and are popular for their aesthetic values, functional use and religious purposes. Metal craft in household items like jars, plates, bowl, spoons, hanging oil lamps, flower vase are also very popular. Karuwa (traditional water jar usually made of brass and sometimes silver) which used to be a common way to drink water in the old days is still a popular items in Nepali household and is often used during special occasions. Karuwa made in Palpa is considered the most authentic among all. Metal wares and items are found in most tourist areas in the valley, the best place to buy the metal art work area at the Patan Industrial Estate.
Sculptures: Sculptures of different Hindu and Buddhist deities are very popular among Nepalese as well as tourist. While Nepalese place them in the Puja room to worship, tourists carry them back home to add to their collection of souvenirs. Copper, brass and bronze statues are made by pouring molten metal into baked earthenware which covers wax image in exact size and details of the desired product. After the molten metal cools and hardens, the earthenware is cast away and the statue is intricately carved and polished. These items are found in most tourist areas in the valley, however, the best place to buy the metal sculptures in the Patan Industrial Estate.
Wood Carvings: The Newars of Kathmandu valley are endowed with the ingenuity of wood carving which constitute items like intricately carved windows, ornate doors, photo frames, jewelry boxes and household items. Peacock window of Durbar Square in Bhaktapur is the finest example of excellent workmanship of wood carving in ancient Nepal. This legacy has indeed been carried forward through the generations of talented artisans. Using teak, sal or rose wood, the artisans also make figures of religious deities, door panels, temples, stupas, window frames, tables, lamps stands, photo frames, assorted furniture and kitchenware. The places to look for wood and metal carving are Bhaktaput Durbar Square and other heritage areas of Kathmandu valley.
Rudraksha (Rosary): Rudraksha are the dark berries of the evergreen Elaeocarpus ganitrus tree. In Sanskrit Rudraksha consists of two words Rudra and Aksha. Rudra is another name of Lord Shiva and Aksha means eyes in Sanskrit. The holy beads of Rudraksha are used to make prayer rosaries and have clefts on the surface known as Mukhis ranging from one face to 21 faces. The Rudraksha rosary is often worn by Hindus and used during meditation. It is believed that on holding or wearing the Rudraksha rosaries with faith and devotion, a person is able to experience the bliss of Rudra and absolve himself from the stains of earthy sins. These are very popular among Hindus and can be bought in the premises of the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, in the lakeside area of Pokhara and in many Hindus temple premises.
Woolen carpets: Carpet weaving started as a household occupation in the mountains of Nepal from the 1960’s. Hand knotted carpets is available in Nepali and Tibetan themes with both traditional and modern designs in a great variety of colors, sizes and knots. Nepali carpets are very popular in Europe and America. These bright colored floor decorative and wall hangings can be purchased in special carpet stores in Kathmandu and Pokhara.
Root Art: Figures of animals, reptiles made from the root of trees are gaining popularity in Nepal. These can be purchased in Thamel, the popular tourist hub of Kathmandu.
Shaligram (holy rocks): Shaligram is fossil rock found on the banks of Kaligandaki River, western Nepal. These fossil rocks have Chakra (disk like formations) made by a river worms called Bajra –Keeta which takes shelter in Shaligram. As per Hindu mythology, these fossil rocks are believed to be the manifestation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the world. It is believed that worshipping Shaligram, chanting Shaligram mantra and washing the holy fossil will protect us from evil and bring material reward and spiritual prosperity. Shaligram is also very popular among Hindus and can be found in premises of the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, in lakeside area of Pokhara and in many Hindu temple premises.
Hemp Products: Hemp passport bags, backpacks, shoulder bags, laptop bags, jogi bags, hats, slippers, belts, camera cover, wallets and many more products are all available in hemp made by the local artisans. These products are available in Thamel, heritage sites of Kathmandu valley and in Lakeside areas of Pokhara.
Masks: Masks have always been popular among the Hindus of Kathmandu valley and are an important part of the cultural performance in festivals and rituals. Masks of different religious deities are worn by performers during Lakhe dance on Indra Jatra day. Masks of Bhairav (god of terror) and Ganesha (Elephant god) and other deities are very popular. Interesting masks are available at most tourists’ junctures like Thamel and the three Durbar Squares areas of Kathmandu valley.
Books: Books the dwell on a wide array of subjects are aplenty in the tourist hotspots of Kathmandu and Pokhara. Books on different subjects, beautiful picture books of the Nepalese people and far off Himalayan and Terai landscape, information about the ancient Nepal or the Nepalese people, trekking information and travel guides as well as latest books on national and international contemporary issues, and popular fictions are available in bookstores of Thamel, Kantipath and other tourist areas of Kathmandu valley and Lakeside area of Pokhara.
Bamboo craft: Various types of products made from bamboo and cane and craft using wheat, rice bran, stem, waste thread and other materials
Fancy Hats: Hats with impression of flags and animals
Napali Dolls: Dolls and puppets of Nepali Culture made of cloth, clay and wood.
Home Furnishing: Bed covers, bed linens and the like with block, screen printing, embroidery, crochet and similar skills.
Incense: Incense that have different kinds of aroma and are packed in various circular and square type elongated boxed made of copper, brass and other metals.
Fiber products: Apparel and non- apparel products made from hemp, nettle and similar indigenous plants.
Caution: All handicraft items above 100 years are termed as antique and taking them out of the country is illegal and a serious offense. But rest of the handicraft items particularly made of stone, metal and wood or paintings or any handicraft resembling historical artifacts need to be cleared from the Department of Archaeology (Kathmandu near Supreme Court) to obtain clearance certificate before being taken abroad. Please take the purchase receipt for clearance of the same.