This book deals with the rules of art. More specifically, it treats of the unwritten rules of Nepalese religious art as laid down in ‘model books’. These can be seen as manuals for the artists, in which they can find the correct way to represent, in visual art, any of some 2000 godly figures. The representation of these gods, all of them with their particular attributes, was (and is) subject to more or less strict rules.
These books, the kind of which is also found in Europe in the early Middle Ages, have developed into a special tradition in Nepal, where a unique number of model books was found to be in existence, the oldest of them going back to the 15th century.
The author of this study (the first in its kind) has traced the development in time of some 150 popular Hindu deities to determine the meaning of these model books for the artists using them, and also to see if the representation of these gods is in any way related to changes in society.