The Indigenous Newar Building Craftsman

The most excellent of the traditional heritage buildings in Kathmandu Valley have been temples, palaces and town houses – all totally achieved through a thoughtful use of mud, brick & tile, wood and copper in all senses, architectural, structural and artistic. The development of this excellence and uniqueness has been made possible by the knowledge, skill and sensibility of the Newar building craftsmen – particularly the Awal, Silpakar and Tamrakar. While the Awal and the Kumal worked with clay, brick and tile, their design, making as well as laying, Silpakar worked with wood. Silpakar is also known as Sikami – while the latter name is as literal as Awal, Tamrakar or Lohkami, the name Silpakar carries the notion of building creativity and crafting skill, the silpa of the wood worker. This is important to remember that while Tamrakar was only occasionally a specialized building-worker, regular building teams were generally made up of Sikami, Awal and Lohakami. Medieval copies of Vaastushastra show that the Silpakar/Sikarmi was the leader at the building site. Read More