A Day in Bhaktapur
August 14, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Right after the April earthquake the international media talked a lot about the damage to Bhaktapur, the ancient Newar city here in the Kathmandu Valley. It’s a place where so much significant artistry in wood and clay is preserved, and remains a living city. Its famous Peacock Window (above) has become an icon of Nepal and Newari architecture.

I wandered around Bhaktapur last week with a young Newar friend. At first I was relieved to see much of the city still intact and feel the usual hum of activity; I found myself concentrating on the monuments that somehow did not fall. But as we head deeper into the city, we came upon those fallen building that had not yet been cleared away. My friend said that he now loses his way in some of the back streets of this place he knows so well. Landmarks are gone, pathways are covered by the rubble of devastated structures. He mentioned that the German government has promised funding for reconstruction and preservation; the task will be huge.


There are places where you can see the community coming together to remove the pieces of their broken buildings and mend sacred sites.


We came upon a Hindu baby naming ceremony as we made rounds to the surviving temples. This little honey below was given the name Rosan.


Exploring side streets and alleyways, there are so many woodcarvers and potters at work. We spent some time with a potter and stepped through the process of making a Newari piggy bank.

From processing the clay:


To shaping it on a manual wheel: (This guy had an incredible range of movement and talent in his craft! I have a feeling he’s been doing this for a long time. Needless to say, I was not very successful when he gave me a try).


IMG_20150805_105532388_HDR -2

Then putting the final, fired product out in the sun:


We finished the day with several helpings of Bhaktapur yogurt in the traditional clay vessels. (I will agree with claims that they are the best yogurt makers in the valley!)


On our way out we had one last marvel at Bhaktpur’s Golden Gate, which still stands!



3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love the pictures. I’m so intrigued with the makeup on that baby. Are there other occasions where the little ones get their cosmetics on?

Comment by Veronique

Yes! This is a very common sight on both boy and girl children at young ages. The little one in the photo probably has it applied every day and not just for the naming ceremony. It’s believed to ward off evil spirits. I’ve also heard one person say that it is also sometimes believed to ward off eye infections.

Comment by wayuphigh

So fascinating! Now I wonder why adults there don’t use it in the same fashion. I’m guessing older, less innocent souls are not as attractive to the evil spirits. Or as we age, our souls build a protective shield of their own. Hmmmm…

Comment by Veronique

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