A highlight of our homestay time is the opportunity to live and study with a Newari master artisan. Punya-ji comes from a long line of metalworkers and jewelry makers his workshop and business provide a rhythm of family life, with his wife Reena frequently lending a hand, in between her responsibilities of managing the household.
Punya is a patient teacher and despite lack of much shared language (his English is definitely better than my Nepali!) I learned a lot about his craft! We spent two 2-3 our sessions in his workshop, which is located on the ground floor of the family’s home. The first day I intently concentrated on the processes–weighing the pure silver & copper for sterling, melting the metal, pouring the molten liquid into forms, pounding, pressing, shaping, soldering, polishing, etc. for creating a lapis set in silver. We also went on to make a matching ring and earrings.
It was the second day that the history and tradition of Punya’s craft really hit me. Not only is this his workshop, it was his fathers workshop, and his father’s father before that. This space and its contents (tools, workbenches, and presses) embody at least four generations of metalworking history. Today the tradition is actively being passed to the next generation via Punya’s 19 year old son, Samyak.
I am honored to briefly live Newari history with the Shakya family!