All that Glitters is Gold

Text by Pooja Gurung

Patan is a feast for the traveler’s senses. It not only opens your eyes wide, but your mind, too. It’s a city of variety; with local sweet shops, the hustle and bustle of people, shopkeepers selling their products on the streets, and well, ofcourse, the intriguing Durbar Square. Patan is a city of Exciting, vibrant, and historic culture and tradition, and it reflects its own personality. One of the largest cities in the country, it is also referred to as the city of festivals and fine art, and for the Making of fantastic metal, wooden, and stone craft. Patan is a city filled with artists, artisans, and Craftsmen, and in every corner and alley, you can find artists at work, including painters filling Color to statues of many deities.

On the road to discovering knowledge, I bumped on a group of people who call themselves a “team”. Their workplace is located in a peaceful area of Oku Bahal, behind Rudra Varna Mahavihar, and this team is not your group of ordinary painters. When entering their domain, you will notice a dedicated and extremely focused team doing what they love.  Sabina, Sunita, Jitu, and Jackey met in a face-painting training class. “We got our training from SumeruKalagram,” shared Sabina. “This organization is not limited to only face-painting, but Also includes categories like pau:bha and stone carving. The interesting part about us is, we Come from different backgrounds. After our training, one question on our minds was,‘Now What?’ We didn’t want our training to go to waste, hence the four of us decided to work together Ind open a similar center. It is not possible for only a single individual to run such trainings, as it Requires a lot of manpower, so we formed a team, and here we are.”

Making sure not to disturb the class, Sabina takes me to one of the corners of the room to have a Chat. I could feel her excitement and enthusiasm to share her story. “I had interest in art from a Young age, and I really wanted to do face painting. As my sons transitioned from kids to Yeenage, I had extra leisure time at home. I wanted to utilize my time, and hence I joined the Training class. Face-painting is an expensive hobby, but you will also be rewarded double of What you have invested.” She then takes me close to one of her team members and explains how Gold painting is done on the face of the statues. Pointing to an ongoing work, she explained, “The gold we use to paint the face is expensive,more so than normal jewelry gold. Painting the Faces of gods looks easy from a viewer’s perspective, but when you actually have to execute, That’s a challenge. Each stroke of the brush is very precise and done carefully. Since gold is Expensive, it requires a certain technique so that we can save gold and use the same amount in Many more statues, or else it will be very expensive for us.”

If you ever get a chance to see them work, I promise you will be super stoked. Everyone’s work Is so perfect. You will not believe that all the participants working there are learners! “We don’t Specifically give trainings here, but this work is more like, the more you do, the better and Moreof a perfectionist you will be. There are many training centers around this area, and if our Team members are interested, we send them there, too. We have been called by many people to Give trainings, but we decline politely. We feel we haven’t reached to a point where we are Capable of giving trainings.”

Since starting face-painting, it has been an overwhelming journey for them. “We never expected To get such support from people. We started getting orders in unexpected numbers; it was Impossible for us to complete them, and we began to expand our manpower. For the initial Phase, we hired manpower from amongst families and relatives; sisters and brothers. In that Manner, now in total, we are 14 members. 

Whether family or outsider, we make sure we take in people who are really interested in art and Have endurance. This work requires a lot of time and patience. If you don’t have that Persistence, then the work will not be up to the mark. I also give preference to people who come From lower-income backgrounds, but who have interest and want to learn. If you excel in this Work, then one can be very prosperous. If you don’t have interest in art at all, you can’t force Yourself to do it, and you can never acquire that skill.”

Jackey shared, “Talking about colors, when coloring the gods and goddesses, we are very Specific about the body color and features of the statues, for example, while for Green Tara the Body tone should be green, for Vajrasatta, the body should be white, and so on. But, when it Comes to coloring the clothes, we can do as we like, but we make sure it complements the statue.   We use artist colors and acrylic colors, and for emulsion, we use Asian or Berger paints. We Have not been able to experiment with more colors, as we do not have much of a range in the Market. Hence, we use what is available in the market.”

Sabia added, “A single person doesn’t work on the entire statue;we work as a team. All of us do Specific paintings, for example, Sunita and I work on the eyes, andJackey works on the lips. Everyone puts in equal effort to complete a statue.”

She explained further, “I prefer completing my works as team instead of just an individual orking On the entire statue. We also don’t have specific time to finish the paintings. We always focus on Giving our 100% on every statue, but sometimes, if there is urgency we do it quickly. The eyes Are the most difficult part to work on. If you look at the eyes properly, you can see different Shades that have been used. To paint the eyes, you also need to have a sharp eye yourself, along With a sharp brush, and most importantly, a lot of patience. While painting, if you lose your Focus, it will not be a very good painting. Some people, when they come to us, they prefer Specific paintings, they bring samples with them. For example, some prefer the whole body to be Painted with gold, and accordingly, the price for the statue also increases. Hence, as mentioned Above, it is also one of the reasons why we focus on training those who are not economically Strong. This profession is a good investment, as along with your dedication, it will help to earn Good money.”

Art comes in many forms, and one of them is definitely face-painting of statues. We are Bedazzled by the beautiful gold painted statues of Buddha, but rarely know about the efforts Behind-the-scene. Anyone working in this profession needs equal amounts of commitment and Dedication. And skill aplenty, of course!