Author:Sanyukta Shrestha (yantrakala)
Paper short abstract:
Brian Hodgson commissioned local artist Raj Man Singh between 1844-45 to produce drawings which show daily life activities in Kathmandu. Henry Oldfield produced similar artworks between 1850 to 1863. The works of these artists is compared in this paper from the ethnographical point of view.
Paper long abstract:
While the art and culture of Kathmandu valley was not documented until the first British publication in 1811, writings by the members of various British expeditions until the mid 19th century form the base for much of the early ethnographical study till date. While these publications often included a handful of landscape of the city landmarks, and limited portraits of the local inhabitants, it was not until the British resident Brian Houghton Hodgson commissioned local artist Raj Man Singh between 1844-45 to produce landscape drawings which are now preserved in London. Not only do these pencil sketches codify the local architecture from that period, they also depict the sociocultural setting through the daily life activities carried out by people who appear inside the frame of these artworks. They frequently project the general lifestyle of the era often illustrating the costumes and religeous objects, livestock and tools of farming, which, to be visualised from mere text accounts is impossible. The practice is further carried out by British surgeon Henry Osborne Oldfield during his stay in Nepal between 1850 to 1863. His works are in watercolour and look at the city and its lifestyle from an outsider's perspective. The relationship between these two artists and their breadth of work is comparatively analysed in this paper from the ethnographical point of view. It further illustrates the case studies of various local heritage sites and communal spaces with regards to their relevance in the present-day Kathmandu after the 2015 earthquake.
Art as Ethnography/Ethnography as Art