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Nepal Semester Student's Catherine Von Holt's photograph of the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.

The Traditional Art of Paubha

Paubha painting is a traditional Nepali craft that originated in the Kathmandu Valley. They are religious paintings usually depicting either a Hindu or Buddhist god and used as a focal point for mediations and pujas. These types of paintings are extremely popular in Nepal, as you can find them almost everywhere you go. There are traditional Nepali painting shops and galleries littered all throughout the major cities of the Kathmandu Valley. Similarly, there are many of these types of paintings hanging up on the walls of almost every Nepali household as well as in religious shrines and meditation rooms around the country. You can even find traditional Nepali paintings all around Western countries. From mandala tapestries in college dorm rooms to the Rubin Museum in New York City, the traditional painting styles of Nepal are spreading to different parts of the world.

By learning to paint my own Paubha painting, I have learned so much about the history and inspirations behind the traditional craft. I have also learned to be more patient, meditative, and appreciative of all the hard work that goes into making a single painting. I learned all about the techniques, from mixing paints to lining, highlighting, and shading, how precise every little detail must be, and the significance behind every object and hand position.

I am tremendously thankful for this opportunity to learn such a traditional craft not only from an extremely talented and professional Paubha painter, but also in the place it originated in. Traveling to Nepal has brought me a new hobby that I might never have found otherwise. Paubha painting has had such a large impact on my life and I plan to continue practicing it for many years to come.