With a studio filled with sculptures and paintings of various styles covering almost every inch of the place, Bijaya Maharjan is one of the most revered artist sculptors currently at work here in Nepal. With the onset of Visit Nepal 2020, he wanted to do something to celebrate the year but had just quite not grasped what. “Nepal has always been known for Gautam Buddha, Mount Everest and various other cultural aspects. We needed something different and then it struck me, what about the yeti? It is one of the most prominent mythical beasts from the Himalayas,” explains Maharjan. One of the main reasons behind choosing the yeti was to highlight the said existence of this mythical beast. “Just like the US has Big Foot, the UK has the Loch Ness Monster, Nepal has the Yeti,” he says.
Having decided what to make, the next challenge was deciding how it should look. Many people, including adventurers and artists, have various ideas of what the Yeti looks like. Being a mythical creature, there is of course no hard data on what it actually looks, except for a general silhouette of the creature. Armed with that knowledge, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, a renowned Nepali contemporary artist based in New York, made the design. “The reason we chose Ang Tsherin Sherpa was because, as we all know, there are no definite features of the Yeti and since he is a well-respected and renowned artist, there will be less of a backlash on the design,” he explains. “But I want to re-iterate that no-one knows what it looks like; what we did was make a design based on different iterations.”
The statue, he says, will serve as a reminder of the cultural and mysterious aspects of our nation. Our culture is something that we need to showcase to the world and Nepal is already knonw as a mystical land. “What I believe in is that everything has energy in it. We channel that energy to create sculptures and paintings and such. The idea behind the Yeti is the same as well. What we have done is channeled the energy of the entire nation and given it a face,” says Maharjan. Speaking on the utilization of the statue and the response of other artists and well-wishers he says that it has been positive and people are actually happy that we are showcasing something other than Everest or Buddha as a way to represent Nepal.
Another twist to this already great idea is that artists are permitted to paint on the yeti, and many from various backgrounds are showcasing their talents by decorating the statue.
Contemporary, modern, traditional—you will be able to see different kinds of art on each statue, painted by numerous renowned artists from all over the nation. The idea is to create 108 statues which will be placed throughout the city and all over Nepal. Many statues already been commissioned by various corporate houses and businesses and hotels throughout the country. “That number is expected to increase. We still have clients willing to commission more statues,” said Maharjan.
Adding to the already mystical nature of the design, the reason behind creating 108 pieces is because of the number’s significance in Hinduism and Nepal’s culture. “There are endless iterations of the number 108 in Hinduism: 108 energy lines, 108 Upanishads, 108 earthly desires and many more,” he says. The idea behind the plan, the number of designs, and the look of the design was not chosen just on a whim; careful consideration, time and effort has gone into making this project possible. According to the artist, it is a culmination of everything that makes Nepal different from other nations. An homage, one might say, to the culture, the myths, the religion and most importantly, to the people. “We are proud of who we are and where we are from.
We need to showcase that. And Visit Nepal 2020 is a very good platform to do that. We should not shy away from showing what we are capable of,” he explains. Truly a wise, masterful and bold step taken by the artist community to promote the talents of Nepali artist for the collective benefit of the nation.