Popular buys among visitors are local craft and artwork. Among these are the Tibetan and Newar Thangka and Paubha paintings. Visitors buy Newari woodcrafts of picture frames, windows, statues and carvings. Carpets that represent the age-old folk art of the Tibetans are also very popular. Shops have rugs on display, however, carpets can be custom made by contacting the manufacturer. Traditional Nepali paper is popular as writing pads and bound journals, calendars and lampshades. Besides, tourists can buy holy ‘Rudrakshya’.
There are government restrictions that visitors should be aware of before purchasing items to take home. Antiques are not permitted to be taken out of the country. Hence inspection by the Department of Archeology is required for export of antiques.
Woodcraft is the specialty of the Newar artisans of the Kathmandu Valley. Among the items that one may wish to purchase while in Kathmandu is window frames. However, windows and frames are not the only items on sale. Statues of gods, erotic carvings, traditional figures, and carvings with modern motifs are also available. The wooden images are made by using tools that were used a thousand years ago.
The metal work is also exceptional. Statues of high quality are available for prices ranging from a few thousand rupees to gold inlaid life-sized works. The lost wax method is used to create these works of art. The wax figure is covered with clay and put in the sun to dry. Once ready, the wax is melted out and molten metal poured into the clay hollow. When the metal cools down and sets, the clay covering is destroyed and careful work with hammer, chisel and sanding material follows. The metal statue is then painted as per the specifications of religion or as per the request of the client.
Gurkha Khukuri is one of its kind of knives found only in Nepal. Price ranges according to the hardness of the blade and the origin of its make. Here, excellent and ornate knives for decor are also available.
Tibetan carpets are popular floor coverings in Europe and much of Nepal's foreign exchange earnings have come from the sale of carpets in the past two decades. The designs are traditional as well as modern. The modern designs have been created by some of the best artists working today in Europe and the products of the better manufacturers have graced many a Tibetan rug collection.
Nepal has some of the best goldsmiths and silver smiths in the world, i.e. the Newar craftsmen, who have been delighting collectors and patrons with their exquisite creations for more than 600 years.
Nepal's most distinctive gems are the exquisite tourmalines from the eastern ranges, in pink, sunset rose, peach, golden, amber and green. There are very rare lime-green tourmalines that are found nowhere else, and some with more than one color in a single stone. The lemon-yellow tourmalines are especially fine.
For hundreds of years, scroll paintings have decorated the walls of monasteries, temples, and homes in East Asia. Especially, the Tibetan and Newar styles come from a time when these cultures were at their peak. Most of the older surviving scroll paintings are reminders of a period when the rulers and the public were concentrating upon the arts as offerings to the deities.
The Mithila paintings, known as Madhubani paintings in India and Janakpur paintings in Nepal, are a common practice among the women of southern Nepal.