Sacred Art For Your Soul

Changu Narayan

Changu 3 Years After: How a Village in Nepal Slowly Recovers

Today is the third anniversary of the devastating earthquakes that killed nearly 9000 people and changed the life of everybody in Nepal, as we are still struggling with its consequences every day.
We look today at the pictures of our village after the earthquake and we can see how our small community managed to recover even if several houses are still damaged or under construction.

Little by little the number of tourists visiting Changu Narayan is increasing.
We are very happy to see more people entering our workshops and learn how to create mandala and thangka paintings or traditional Himalayan wooden masks.
This is really important for our art school, especially for the younger student artists that have the opportunity to improve their english while learning side by side with foreigners.
Despite the good numbers registered by the tourist sector, many people in our village and villages nearby, mostly farmers, are still struggling.

Three years ago we decided to use to help our small community by donating a generous amount of each sale coming from this website.
We are glad of the support we received during these difficult years and we are all truly grateful of the generous contributions of all our customers. Thanks to you visiting the website and purchasing our works of art we funded several projects to build shelters, fixing and restoring houses, providing necessary goods to homeless and people living in rural areas. We also financed several activities like IT classes for kids, village and forests cleanups and workshops to support and empower women in our village.
If you are not familiar with these projects please visit: and

Yet there is a lot of work to do. Even in western countries it takes years if not decades to rebuild after a natural disaster of these proportions. So considering the economic situation of our country, the greed and incompetence of the same old politicians and the high level of corruption, it is reasonable to say that we are still at the beginning of the recovering process.
The good news is that despite the difficult circumstances people here keep smiling and always show hope and optimism, and we are proud to be part of all this.
If you would like to contribute please share our website with your friends to support our art school and help our community to restore our village.
Again thank you to all our dear customers that make this possible.


Supporting Micro Businesses in Nepal

Supporting the cottage industries in Nepal Since the devastating earthquakes of April and May 2015, Nepal has seen a downturn in tourism. April and May are normally busy months for tourism, and so for many Nepali, these are the months (along with the winter), when they will make their income from selling handmade items from the country’s many cottage industries. Changunarayan is one such village that relies heavily on tourism to support some of its residents, with as many as 300 tourists per day coming to visit the temple in high tourist season. Right now it is monsoon, and it is post-quake Nepal; a different Nepal. Tourists are hesitant to come with aftershocks still a fading but very real feature of being in this country. I have been here for ten days now, and we have had one decent aftershock so far and plenty of rain and very hot days. I have walked through the Thamel district with street peddlers desperate to have me purchase their products – fuelled with stories of their brother, mother, sister, son, daughter or father who died in the quake. Whether or not this is a marketing ploy to have me take pity and purchase, is anybody’s guess, but it certainly is difficult to say no when there is clearly such a need at this time to sell product. Changunarayan is home to many small businesses selling traditional handcrafted items such as the Thangka paintings, carved wooden masks and wooden puppets. The Thangka and masks are produced on-site in Changunarayan and provide an apprenticeship for young artisans looking to gain a craft that will provide an income for their future. There are also small shops selling pashmina, yak wool blankets and other handcrafted items such as notebooks, tea, gift cards and lampshades. Many of these items are sourced from nearby villages, which help grow and support the network of artisans making products as their main source of income.Thangka painting in Changunarayan is big business. The painting school has also provided many young women the chance to start a career in painting Thangka.

Being in a small village like Changunarayan where traditional handcrafts are nurtured made me draw parallels with New Zealand and our own traditional crafts such as Maori wood carving, weaving and painting. New Zealand also has a very strong artisan culture; supporting potters, craftsmen jewellers, painters, clothing designers, sculptures and numerous handcrafts and locally made items. One of the worst things about opening the gates to free trade with China has meant the majority of New Zealand designed items are made off-shore. I am a keen advocate for supporting New Zealand made products. What a domestic market does for the country is create an investment in its people. When we source cheap, easy to reproduce products from China or India, we slowly but surely fritter away the skills needed in a labour force to keep the economy healthy. Nepal has suffered immensely from large earthquakes, so this small country needs it’s cottage industry’s to be supported through tourism. It needs to be able to re-invest in it’s people and find value in the local traditional artisans. I had five items of clothing made last week in Sankhu – the town where we have been doing earthquake volunteer work building shelters. In Nepal, women who wear the traditional clothing, have these items made from scratch. A seamstress will measure you up and make to order. Fabric is cheap and the variety is outstanding. Consequently there is a multitude of seamstresses (and tailors for the men) to be found, along with fabric shops. My five items included three tops in traditional Nepali style and two pairs of pants also in the same style. For fabric and construction the total cost was 37,000 Nepali Rupee – approximately $50 New Zealand dollars.Note that she sews on a treadle sewing machine!!

I was very happy with my clothing and the seamstress was very happy with my extravagant spend (five items at once is a big deal!). I sure hope that Nepal does not sell out to ready-made outfits sourced from India or China. I remember when my mother used to make my clothes. I also remember making my own clothes and also for my children. I remember when fabric shops were a common sight; when a seamstress or tailor would “suit you up”, and I also remember when “The Warehouse” came to town and ruined all of that. The lure of cheap stuff right now has eliminated New Zealand’s autonomy as a manufacturer and producer of everyday items. What this does is add more impetus to keep wages low; after all anyone can afford to shop at The Warehouse right? Sadly, only the middle to upper class can afford to shop New Zealand made and possibly in reality, only the upper class can really afford to do that. My hope for Nepal is that it will retain its wonderful traditional artisan culture and celebrate the wonderful quality products that are produced here.

Cashmere products for sale in Thamel. These are locally produced in Bhaktapur.

Felted products are everywhere in Nepal; ranging from purses to bags to booties and mobiles.

I would love for the rest of the world to see these products too and support Nepal’s growth by mindfully choosing Nepalese products over Chinese products. One of the beautiful aspects of being in this country is seeing these artisans going about their work – especially when it occurs in a small village like Changunarayan. That can only ever be good for a village such as this as it adds value to the experience of visiting for tourists, and embeds cottage industries into the character of small traditional communities.

Today I went shopping in Changunarayan to buy gifts. I spent 8500 Nepali Rupee (approximately $120 New Zealand dollars). For that I got the following:
One pair of pants
Two T-shirts
One long-sleeved shirt
One set of locally made gift cards
Eight “purses” of Himalayan tea
Four lampshades
Two stunning yak wool blankets
Six 100% pure cashmere “Pashmina” scarves/shawls
One wooden puppet

It feels wonderful to be able to support a small community by spending my money here. In Thamel (Kathmandu) I would be paying “tourist” prices and the street peddlers would be purchasing products from small villages where the items are produced (like Changunarayan) anyway and adding their mark-up on top.
You really do get a lot of “bang” for your buck in Nepal, but the impact of that buck spent, spreads far wider and deeper than a dollar spent in New Zealand.Kerenza Clark


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