Pyangaun is a settlement that is a part of the Godawari Municipality area ward number 11. It is 14 km south of Kathmandu (9 km south from Lagankhel). Pyangaun gets its name from the pyang bamboo containers which is their signature handicraft. Until a hundred years ago, this craftsmanship of making bamboo containers in maana and pathi measures was very popular. But now the practice is at the point of extinction since measurements have been standardized to SI units.
The population of approximately 1,500 individuals belong to the Newar community of Maharjans, but their language, culture and tradition are distinct from that of the Newars in Kathmandu Valley. The community traces its ancestry to both the Newar Jya-poos and the Tamang communities on the periphery of the Valley.
While I was photographing Pema Maharjan in Pyangaun, she said, ‘You people always come and click photographs, but never bring back the prints to us. Get in the habit of not only taking photos, but also giving photos.’ This formed the inspiration for this photo book. I have since been distributing the prints of portraits I have made. I have become friends with the old, the young and the children. Most importantly, I am getting a chance to work further with different organizations for the promotion of the people of Pyangaun and their arts.
This work focuses on the disappearing bamboo-craft culture. I have also designed promotional materials for the handicrafts to bring wider recognition of the folk traditions and knowledge of the people of Pyang. This project aims to highlight, preserve, artistically document and suggest ways to keep alive the heritage of Pyangaun and its bamboo art.
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