Sacred Statue Support (pictorial): “More than a venerable object” — Nepal’s Best Statues, 3rd Generation Bhim Pathak on the Dharma craft of metal statue art

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    Although we often feature Dharma artists and craftspeople on Buddha Weekly, we remain in awe of the master quality of the precious sacred statues from the 3rd generation of statue artisans at Nepal’s Best Statues. You could say it’s both a brand name and a description.

     

    Buddha Weekly Bhim at Nepals Best Statues shows off a recent Yamantaka painted statue Buddhism
    Bhim Pathak from Nepal’s Best Statues demonstrates a stunning Yamantaka statue partially assembled and painted.

     

    Although this is a short interview, it became a pictorial splendor — these sacred statues (practice supports) certainly don’t need much elaboration. The artisans were featured in Arthur Erberto Lo Bue in his book Newar Sculptors and Tibetan Patrons in the 20th Century, published in 2002

    ” One of the most representative Newar sculptors of the second half of the 20th century is Rajes’ Kuma (born on the 6th day of the seventh month of the Vikrama year 2011, that is in October 1954 C.E.), 50 a promising and skilled artist already in the 1970s.” (For more on this see the quote below the interview and pictures.)
    Bhim Pathak of Patan Nepal painting Shakyamuni Buddha statue
    Bhim puts the final finishing touches on a very large statue of Shakyamuni Buddha.

    Bhim Pathak:

    “When you buy something from an artist you are buying more than an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of trial, error, and experimentation. You are buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy! You are not buying one thing, you are buying a piece of the heart, a piece of a soul…. a small piece of someone else’s life.”

     

    Yamantaka finished IMG 20210324 WA0018
    An elaborate, large, and beautiful Yamantaka statue thangka painted!

     


    Contact and Store

    Interview Bhim Pathak

     

    1. You specialize in custom and master quality manufacturing as specialists in metal statues. How long have you been doing this craft?

     

    Statue work  started with our grandfather. We have been doing this artwork for three generations. I started working on statues when I was young. I completed my Masters degree from Tribhuvan University and started managing this artwork.

    Buddha Weekly Vajrakialay unpainted close up IMG20220224214229 Buddhism
    Unfinished Vajrakilaya prior to elaborate thangka painting. Just wait…

     

    Buddha Weekly Vajrakilaya painted but not assembled IMG20220527165819 Buddhism
    Painting in process. The statue is disassembled and painted by master artists, then… just wait…
    Vajrakilaya blue paint only layer IMG 20210322 WA0004
    Vajrakilaya is in progress, partially painted, without the elaborate details… just wait…
    Buddha Weekly Vajrakilaya close up head statue Buddhism 1
    Close up of finished face — wow!

    Vajrakilaya finished new owner and happy vajrakillaya practitioner Stephen Heyes IMG 20220703 093147 738
    Fortunate Stephen Heyes took delivery of the stunning Vajrakilaya statue (practice support). Very fortunate indeed!

    2. All of your statues are stunning. Do you have a personal favorite or favorites? Why is that your favorite?

     

    My favorite statues are Vajrakilaya, 32 armed Heruka, Yamantaka and there are more … I have attached photos. These are my favorite because they are very much unique and they took more concentration and time to complete a single piece. I remember it took us almost 8 months of time to get ready these larger statues.

    Buddha Weekly Vajrakilaya and artist Bhim Pathak and his mother sitting in front of the completed Vajrakilaya 117310991 2697537510534848 5508427761907654752 n Buddhism
    Bhim Pathak and his mother sit in front of a completed Vajrakilaya. Nepal’s Best Statues is a 3rd generation artisan craft statue maker.

    3. Do you find people are increasingly attracted to Thangka-painted statues? It seems to combine the best of both master statue craft with master thangka craft. What’s the process? What metal base do you use if you plan to paint?

     

    Yes, people are very much interested in such painted statues. Our statues shapes are so perfect that a thanka artist can paint them to enhance the beautiful look. We first complete a 24k gold gild statue,  then paint them into multicolor. This is because in the long run statues will look more beautiful with color and gold combined. Our all statues are of copper, hand-carved and then beautifully hand-painted.

    Working on wax model of Yamantaka statue IMG 20210810 113320
    The wax model of Yamantaka (the finished art shown above).

     

    Yamantaka assembled Unpainted IMG 20210324 WA0013
    Yamantaka prior to painting. (finished painted Yamantaka above.)
    Yamantaka antique style IMG 20210324 WA0014
    Antique-style finish Yamantaka statue.
    Yamantaka Close up partially painted IMG 20210324 WA0008
    Partially painted.

    4. If it’s not an “artisan secret” how do you manage to create the beautiful almost luminous gold faces — so perfect in detail, without blemish?

     

    There is not any secret. Statues only look perfect with continuous hard work, continuous team effort and most importantly your passion  toward statue art. When you put your best effort and love what you do then the result is always the best.

     

    Buddha Weekly IMG20220620174206 Buddhism
    An elaborately finished statue from Nepal’s Best Statues.

     

    Working on 32 armed Heruka IMG 20210810 114625
    32-armed Heruka unpainted.

    5. How long does it typically take to craft a finished statue (more specific to the painted and treated statues.)

     

    It took us 8 months of a conscious team effort to make a masterpiece of statue art of this 24 inches size Vajrakilaya. When we have the mold, then usually it takes 3 to 4 months to ready a few statues with hand carving, gold, and painting work — because I have a team whom I can trust.

    Bhim Pathak visits monastery Palambang Indonesia to present Multi colored Yamantaka statue IMG 20180924 WA0013
    Bhim Pathak visits a monastery Palambang in Indonesia to present a painted Yamantaka Statue.

    What else should we know?

    When you buy something from an artist you are buying more than an object. You are buying hundreds of hours of trial, error, and experimentation. You are buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy! You are not buying one thing, you are buying a piece of the heart, a piece of a soul…. a small piece of someone else’s life.

    Buddha Weekly Bhim receiving blessing from Dodjom Rinpoche in 2018 20191125 112307 1 Buddhism 2
    Bhim received a blessing from Dodjom Rinpoche.
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    Lee Kane

    Author | Buddha Weekly

    Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
    Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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    1 thought on “Sacred Statue Support (pictorial): “More than a venerable object” — Nepal’s Best Statues, 3rd Generation Bhim Pathak on the Dharma craft of metal statue art”

    1. Great impressive work Bhim Pathak. Your passion, dedications, and hard work can be seen through your work of manufacturing statues. Keep up the good and best of luck for future projects.

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