Now in our fourth generation in the business, Bodhisattva has been cultivating relationships with famous artists and also promoting and encouraging gifted, new artists in order to keep the fine work and artistry alive. Bodhisattva supports the very best artisans, who produce museum-quality artwork.
Our great-grandfather and great-grandmother were both artisans who made crystal images. Our grandfather, however, dealt with antiquities, which Purna Man Shakya, the founder and owner of Bodhisattva, could not condone. He spent long hours with living artists, instead, working on the fine detailing of statues, and ways to improve them, with his goal being to increase the artists’ visibility in society and earn them the respect and fair compensation they deserve. Now, Bodhisattva has re-opened its store at Baber Mahal Revisited, with the goal of providing the world with the best quality Newar artwork available, produced by the Newar community. Every purchase from Bodhisattva keeps the long tradition of Newar sacred art alive.
The gallery promotes original art work with due respect for the entire artist in the process of making it. The gallery only has the best pieces to showcase the skill and ability of the Newar artist and our heritage. The gallery’s main objective is to give the name and face to the artworks. It’s not about just selling a piece of art but to honor the artist and support the continuation of this tradition.
About the Collector
Purna Man Shakya has a keen eye for beauty. You could say that he was born with this ability to perceive the extraordinary in Newar paintings and statues of the divine, some essential quality that makes the figures brilliantly alive. His ancestral home is in the city of Patan, renowned both for its Buddhism and its artists, and for at least five generations, his family has been producing sacred art while fulfilling their duties as priests to the Golden Temple (KwaBaha). His paternal grandparents specialized in carving crystal, making stupas, yantra images, and butter lamps out of this dazzling and fragile material. His maternal grandfather made intricate bronze vessels for ritual use. Because he was left-handed, Purna’s father was discouraged from learning these arts himself, but for that reason he treasured them even more, and made a lifetime of collecting the most beautiful of the objects around him. Purna grew up surrounded by the most exquisite examples of the traditional arts, still in the living context that had produced them.
How do you choose? What makes a painting exquisite, rather than merely good, so that it awakens the divine spark in you, the viewer? Purna says “It touches your heart. You feel something.” This emotional response to an image is immediate, a sense of recognition, bypassing analytical thought. Experiencing an image with the heart, not only the eyes and mind, is how a dark image of a wrathful deity such as Mahakala, with his necklace of severed heads and his terrifying, bulging, blood-streaked eyes could be described as “charming.” The spark of connection with a painting is what is most important. Beyond that, the superb technique displayed in these paintings is worthy of long scrutiny, as there are unexpected treasures in the details.
By appreciating what goes into the images they make, Purna has become the artists’ friend. He has spent many hours in their company, learning from elders and mentoring younger artists. For over 25 years, he has been collecting their work, often without any thought of sale. It is because he loves the work that he wants to see it continue, and flourish, into the future. And for that to happen, Newar artists need to be valued, accorded the dignity and respect that they deserve. With this exhibition, Purna is introducing us to his remarkable friends, these artists, who work long hours, with skill and with inspiration, to bring us their vision of sacred beauty. Purna’s journey and vision would not have been possible with the support and inspiration of his beloved wife Anjana Shakya for the last twenty-five years, in dedicating both their collective energy to promoting Newar art.