Nepali Times Asian Paints
Nation
Weaving magic



PAAVAN MATHEMA
Raju Tuladhar sits at his loom and starts to weave the wool through the fine warp threads that have been carefully fixed on the frame. His hands move with a swiftness that can only come after years of practice. As he works, the shape of hills slowly emerges from the intertwined green threads of wool.

"I have a special attachment to threads," Raju says with a smile. "They have been a part of my life for 18 years now."

While Nepali carpets are well known to the outside world, few people know about Tuladhar's tapestries. He was 12 years old when he began to learn the weaving techniques at the Nepal Srijanatmak Kala Guthi, a privately run arts and crafts institute in Dhobighat.

Urmila Upadhyaya Garg, who established the institute, has been his mentor from the beginning and today is himself an instructor.

"You never know how long it will take to make a tapestry or how the design will emerge," he says. "As I play with the ideas and blend the colours, my tapestries often turn out different from how I first imagined them."

He has tried his hands at Mithila-style folk art, Australian aboriginal painting and western-style modern art. But he always comes back to his preferred landscapes, which give him the freedom to merge shades and textures of wool, cotton and silk threads. A Picasso lover, he has tried to emulate the artist's brush strokes in his weaving. From a distance, his work can appear almost impressionistic.

"Producing the right texture is a challenge because it requires precision in the adding and merging of colours," says Raju. "But the satisfaction you get after completing your work is worth every effort."

More than 50 of Raju's tapestries decorate homes and galleries around the world. Although his work has a strong following abroad, Tuladhar says few Nepalis respect tapestry as an art form, but he plans to hold a solo exhibition of his tapestries in Nepal.

He is selling his latest work, a tapestry depicting a Nepali landscape of hills and mountains, measuring 60 by 39 inches to Canadian collectors Sherry and Dennis Holyk for $2,000. "It is difficult to sell something you've worked so hard on," Tuladhar concedes. "It almost becomes like your child."

Say the Holyks: "This is a treasure for us, and will be passed down through our family for generations to come."

Paavan Mathema



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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