Nepalese Handicrafts have been popular since long. The mention of the woolen blanket in the “Kautilya Artha Sastra” of Chanakya Bishnu Gupta (Kautilya) which dates back to 4th century B.C. Proves this fact. Nepalese bronze crafts have been treasured by the Tibetans since the time of the Lichchhavis (3rd and 4th century A.D). During the medieval period, Nepalese handicrafts were very popular in China and India. Sculptured ornaments and religious idols and statuettes in gold, silver, bronze, brass, stone and wood and embossed with semi-precious stones were highly sought-after merchandise in China and India. Chinese travelers appreciated the skill and craftsmanship of the Nepalese artisans, especially their weaving, spinning, woodcarving and metalwork. The contribution of the master craftman, Arniko, who enriched Nepalese Handicrafts and popularized them throughout Tibet, China and other countries of the Far East was immense. Nepalese handicrafts are deeply rooted in the socio-religious and cultural lives of the people. They can be divided into two main categories: articles of daily use ad artifacts/articles of aesthetic value and religious significance. These range from artifacts linked to ritualistic cults during the worship pots of deities to objects used in daily life, like pots and hairpins to hookahs (hubble-bubble), beads, shawls and skirts. Ethnic craftsmen have demonstrated their distinct characteristics in the design, modeling and production process of the artifacts. The ethnic utilitarian handicrafts constitute a long range of articles, like khal- lohara (pestle and mortar), amokhara (water-pot), anit (wine jar), sukunda (oil lamp), karuwa (water jar), thaal (Plate) e.t.c.
Nepal’s handicraft industry of today is almost totally dependent on tourism and export. The habit of using handicrafts is, however, gradually increasing among the local people, too. Projects for the restoration of temples and moumnets launched by both government and non-government agencies with international cooperation have helped revive and sustain handicraft production and trade, such as brick and tile manufacturing, woodcarving, metal and bronze casting, stone carving and so on. In fact, handicrafts are the true mirror of Nepalese cultural and artistic heritage and reflect the glorious art traditions of the past. The fine craftsmanship of Nepalese artisans has not only attracted foreign visitors, but has also enhanced the country’s image abroad. It is thus one of the country’s most important industries having a wide international market. The skill has been handed down from father to son and from one generation to another. Nepalese handicrafts, particularly bronze figures, wooden artwork, Pashmina shawls and Thangka paintings have been very popular gift items among the tourists. Bronze crafts like the sukunda, or traditional Nepalese oil lamp, prayer wheels, metal bells and traditional dolls are some of the highly popular souvenir gift items coveted by the tourist.