Toran or torana
Mar 25

Here at Hastakala, we celebrate the rich artistic heritage of Nepal. Today, we delve into the vibrant tradition of the toran, a beautiful and symbolic element that adorns doorways across Kathmandu and beyond.

Traditionally, toranas are believed to purify those who enter a temple or house. That’s why they’re often placed above doorways. These gateways are frequently decorated with sculptures. Common themes include:

  • Garuda: A powerful eagle-faced deity with a human body and wings. He’s often depicted gripping a snake in his hands.
  • Chepu: A mystical creature specific to Newari culture in Nepal.
  • Makara: Another mythical creature, often shown with a spread tail adorned with various designs.

What is Toran or Torana?

Torana (Sanskrit: तोरण) is a free-standing ornamental or arched gateway used for ceremonial purposes in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain architecture of the Indian subcontinent. They are also widely seen in Southeast Asia and parts of East Asia.

दुई संसारको सेतु – A Bridge Between Two Worlds

The word “toran” comes from the Sanskrit word “torana,” meaning “to pass.” In the Kathmandu Valley’s Newari architecture and throughout Nepal, the torana transcends mere decoration. It serves as a sacred gateway, a symbolic bridge between the भौतिक लोक – physical world and the आध्यात्मिक लोक – Spiritual Realm.

Here’s a breakdown of its characteristics:

  • Structure: Typically consists of two pillars carrying two or three transverse beams that extend beyond the pillars on either side.
  • Materials: Often made of wood or stone, with the cross-piece frequently sculpted.
  • Location: Found at the entrances to temples, shrines, palaces, and other significant buildings, sometimes even secular structures.
  • Significance: Considered sacred or honorific gateways, symbolizing a transition or passage into a sacred space.

Additional Information:

  • Toranas are believed to have originated in ancient India and have spread to other parts of Asia over time.
  • They can be richly decorated with carvings, paintings, and other motifs, often depicting religious symbols or auspicious figures.
  • Similar structures with regional variations are found in other Asian countries, such as the In Kathmandu Durbar, Bhaktapur Durbar, Partan Durbar, Shanmen gateway in China, the torii gate in Japan, and the IljumunHongsalmun gates in Korea, etc.

The images from one side of the toran is same to the other half. It creates balance and beauty. In the center, there is the image of the main god or goddess. Usually, the image of the deity, the temple belongs to is engraved. This unique style and tradition is spread all over the ancient temples and buildings of the Kathmandu city and is still in practise in Hindu and Buddhist temples.

कलात्मक र आध्यात्मिक सङ्गम – A Fusion of Art and Spirituality

Traditionally, toranas are crafted from महत्त्वपूर्ण वस्तुहरू – significant materials.

  • आँपका पात – Mango leaves symbolize new beginnings and growth.
  • सयपत्री – Marigold flowers represent purity, festivity, and auspiciousness.
  • रङ्गीन धागो – Colorful threads ward off negativity and bring good luck.

These elements are woven together or strung onto a base, creating a vibrant tapestry of colors and textures.

स्थायी र अस्थायी तोरण – Permanent and Temporary Toranas

There are two main types of Toran or Toranas found in Nepal:

  • Architectural Torana: Seen adorning the entrances of temples and important buildings, these elaborate structures are often made from (काठ) – wood or (ढुङ्गा) – stone. The intricately carved lintels depict (धार्मिक र सांस्कृतिक प्रतीकहरू) religious and cultural symbols.
Pragyaparamita, a beautifully artistic toran (gateway) established in 1730 B.S. (1673 A.D.) at Chushyabahal Vihar, Kathmandu.
  • Decorative Torana: These temporary toranas are a ubiquitous sight during festivals, weddings, and other auspicious occasions. They bring a touch of festivity and are believed to welcome good fortune and positive energy into the home.
Decorative Torana In Gate of individual during festivals, weddings, and other auspicious occasions.

At Hastakala, our exquisite handcrafted doors, including the अष्टमङ्गल ड्रागन ढोका – Ashtamangala Dragon Door and the मयूराकृति झ्याल – Peacock Window Frame, often incorporate the torana design. These pieces not only showcase the artistry of our artisans but also embody the rich symbolism of the toran tradition.

So, the next time you step through a doorway adorned with a toran, remember that it’s more than just decoration. It’s a symbol of our vibrant culture, a bridge between worlds, and a warm welcome to all that is auspicious.

हास्तकलामा हामी परम्परागत कला र सीपलाई जीवन्त राख्दछौं – At Hastakala, we keep tradition and artistry alive. Visit our website or our store to explore the beauty of Nepali craftsmanship and bring a touch of cultural heritage into your own home.

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