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
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.
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
“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.”
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.