Wood is an integral part of the Nepalese traditional culture and architecture and evidence of its role can be found dating back to the Licchavi period, fourth through ninth century. Most of the woodcarvings that have survived throughout Nepal around temples and other heritage sites are from the thirteenth to eighteenth century Malla period. While earlier woodcarvings have been described in travelogues, samples have not survived the elements.
High quality wood carving craftsmanship of Kathmandu valley, are reflected in various articles like windows, doors, mythological figures, chests, boxes, figures of gods and goddesses, animals and birds. It is a craft that has been passed from father to son, with no formal training, for generations.
The art of woodcarving has been in existences since the Middle Ages as evident from artistic wood works found in various old temples, palaces and houses in and around Kathmandu valley. This craft languished for some time, but has seen a resurgence since the 1960s with the increasing influx of tourists. Woodcarvings were bought by tourists visiting Nepal as decorative piece.
The opening of new hotels and construction of new houses also created demand for artistic woodcarvings. Most of the wood carving work is done in three cities of Kathmandu valley. Production is widely spread among individuals and households. Today carvings have been scaled down to include such items as picture frames, mirror frames, small boxes, animals, buttons, decorative wall hangings.