Metal craft exports up on Chinese demandEarnings from the export of metal craft surged almost fourfold in the last seven years as demand for Buddha statues swelled in Tibet and other parts of China.
Earnings from the export of metal craft surged almost fourfold in the last seven years as demand for Buddha statues swelled in Tibet and other parts of China.
Export revenues jumped to Rs1.22 billion in the last fiscal year from Rs366.21 million in 2009-10, the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN) said.
Shipments of metal items have been increasingly constantly over the years, with exports recording a growth of 12.03 percent in the last fiscal year. Earnings from metal craft now make up 26 percent of the total revenues from handicraft exports.
As per FHAN officials, Tibet and central China are the main markets for Nepali metal craft. Nepal exported metal products worth Rs530 million to China in 2015-16. This amount represents almost half of the total income generated from exports of metal craft worldwide.
Another big market for Nepali metal craft is the US, which imported Rs140 million worth of metal products. Other major buyers of Nepali metal craft are Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Europe.
FHAN Vice-President Kiran Dangol said the rise in demand for Buddha statues mainly from the northern neighbour pushed up exports of metal craft. According to him, full-size Buddha statues made of brass are in high demand. The statues range in size from 1 foot to 1.5 feet tall, Dangol added.
Lalitpur district produces 70-80 percent of Nepal’s total output of metal craft. The products are either shipped directly to
overseas markets or sold to Chinese visitors in Nepal.
Exporter Sabin Kumar Shakya said most of their products were sold to monasteries in Tibet and China.
He added that domestic demand for metal craft, especially Buddha statues, had also surged with an increasing number of Buddhist monasteries being constructed across the country.
Images of the Bodhisattva Swet Tara and Harit Tara (white and green Taras) are fast selling products, Shakya said. A Bodhisattva, a being on the way to achieving Buddhahood, is a popular subject in Buddhist art.
Exports may be booming but the statue business is currently facing difficulties like shortages of manpower and raw materials and fluctuating input costs, said Purna Kaji Shakya, a metal craft producer.
“Expert artisans who carve the final touches on the statues and turn them into works of art are becoming hard to find,” he said. “Without such skilled crafts workers, the quality of Nepali metal craft may decline.”