Great Artist Arniko

One day about 735 years ago a foreign craftsman was brought to the audience of Emperor Kublai Khan of Yuan Dynasty in China. The emperor had heard a lot about the craftsman who had just built a golden pagoda in Tibet upon his orders. There was a model of a human body showing nerves, arteries and veins for acupuncture treatment gifted to Song Dynasty from Mongolia. The model was damaged and no person in the court had been able to repair it. The emperor wanted to see his skills for himself so he asked this foreign craftsman if he could repair it. The newcomer in the palace went to work and in soon he repaired the human model in such a way that the nerves and arteries were very clear like in a real human body. Everybody including the emperor was surprised by the skill of this foreign craftsman. This craftsman was no other than Arniko.

Arniko

Arniko was born in Nepal in 1244. He went to the court of Yuan Dynasty in China at the age of seventeen. He made Stupas in Tibet, Beijing and Wutaishan. He also showed his skills in casting statues of Lord Buddha, painting, embroidering images on silk, engraving, portraitures and making instrument to show earthquake, etc. He had impressed the Chinese emperor with extraordinary skills in whatever he was ordered to do. Arniko built the White Pagoda in Beijing in 1278. When it was completed a big religious function was organized by the emperor to initialize it. Upon arrival of the emperor to the White Pagoda a powerful heavenly light beam struck on it and the Pagoda glowed. The emperor was astonished to see this and believed Arniko had divine powers. The emperor made him a powerful minister in the court. He was given the title of Liang Guo Gong (duke) and was posthumously given the title of Ming Hui. Arniko organized a workshop for arts at the Imperial Palace. He had about 200 apprentices from Nepal (some of whom were craftsmen), China, Tibet and Mongolia. He also wrote a book on measurements and proportions for making statue of Lord Buddha. A copy of this book was presented to Bhikchhu Amritananda Mahastavir of Anandakuti Bihar in 1959 during his visit to China.
His constructions and creations of arts and artifacts have earned high appreciation and admiration for him from Chinese and other people all over the world since hundreds of years. With contributions in developing arts and architecture in China he earned great prestige and honor for Nepal and the Nepalese people. The Chinese people regard Arniko as a symbol of Nepal China friendship. Most of the Stupas built by Arniko are preserved as heritage monuments. Chinese academicians have recently formed a committee to study Arniko and write a book on his life and works. He White Pagoda Relics Preservation Bureau is planning to form Arniko Society China in the year 2003. This society will carry out research works on Arniko and Nepal China Relations.

Celebrating History of Friendship Developed by Arniko

Arniko created the history of friendship with China, when he went there several hundred years ago to be an instrumental to spread teaching of Buddha by means of making White Pagoda Temple and numerous objects of arts and architects in different parts of China. Most of the Chaityas still stand to continue to convey the message of Buddha who was born in Kapilvastu, Nepal, two and a half millennium ago.

Arniko Society this year added a new chapter to Cultural Relations between Nepal China Relations by erecting a life size statue of Arniko, Nepal's "Rashtriya Bibhuti" in Beijing. The statue of the Arniko the Genius who planed, designed and constructed the whole structure was unveiled amidst a colorful ceremony on the first of May 2002.It was also on the first week of May that the Emperor Kublai Khan had visited in 1277 to pay respect to the White Pagoda, the symbol of Buddha and Bauddha Darma. It is said when the emperor entered the White Pagoda Temple a column of light rose over the White Pagoda Temple showing the dedication of the Emperor to Lord Buddha. Looking at the column of light emanated from the sky over the Pagoda and the Emperor was overjoyed with gratification. He asked a marksman to fire one arrow each in four directions and he gave the land covered by the four arrows to the White Pagoda Temple.

The White Pagoda has endured rain and storms for more than seven hundred years and remained intact, as it was when the construction was completed. Since then hundreds of Chinese and other devotees visited this shrine every day to pay respect to the Enlightened One and feel happy.

Arniko Society and White Pagoda Relics Preservation Bureau made elaborate preparations for the Arniko Statue unveiling Ceremony and weeklong Nepal Festival at the White Pagoda Premises. A delegation of Arniko Society comprising of President Anoop Ranjan Bhattarai, Vice President Rajendra Nakarmi and Executive Member Lava Kumar Thapa had arrived in Beijing one week in advance to supervise the preparatory works. The program for the Nepal week was elaborate. There was cultural troupe from Nepal giving two shows daily together with Chinese artists. The Department of Culture was kind enough to send a troupe of singers, dancers, musicians, lion dancers, dancers walking on wooden pole and acrobatics to show their performances to the audience attending the ceremony. Live demonstration of stone carving by a Nepali artist, an exhibition of pictures and posters to give a glimpse of Nepal to the visitors, Nepali Food Festival, Kung Fu performance were the other highlights of the weeklong Nepal Festival.

On the day of the opening ceremony the White Pagoda Temple looked like a bride. The whole of the area was decorated with Nepalese and Chinese flags, banners, and buntings.

The statue of Arniko was covered with a piece of red silk and it was to fly over the sky with the help of a big striped colored balloon. The balloon was tied with ribbons, which were to be cut letting the balloon fly and thus removing the silk cover and unveiling the statue.

Tourist Literature, a symbolic metallic souvenir of the Bai Ta , a newly issued Nepalese coin, colorful Nepalese caps were presented to all the visitors attending the opening ceremony.

The program announced by introducing the distinguished invitees Deputy Director of Cultural Relics Preservation Department of Beijing, Mei Dinghua, the Deputy Director of Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries Su Gong, Director of Tourism Administration Yu Wang Zhang, Chief of White Pagoda Relics Preservation Bureau Mr. He Pei, officials of Chinese government, Royal Nepalese Ambassador and officials of the Embassy, Delegates of Arniko Society, former Chinese and Nepalese Ambassadors, and other respected people of China. A large crowd of more than one thousand Chinese and Nepalese audience was present there. The interesting thing about the audience was that all of them Gentlemen, Ladies or Children looked like Nepalese with colorful Nepalese caps as their headdress.

After everybody took his or her seats the Royal Nepalese Ambassador gave the first speech. In his speech he quoted the remark made by His Excellency the President Jiang Zemin to His Majesty King Birendra when he had made his last visit to China, saying that "while on his morning walk he sees the White Pagoda every day and remembers Nepal". The Ambassador added that in this way the White Pagoda has genuinely assumed the role of the symbol of friendship between Nepal and China.

The Deputy Director of the Cultural Relics Preservation Department Mr. Mei Dinghua said Arniko dedicated his whole life in serving China. He was a cultural ambassador to China who helped to promote cultural relations between the two countries, it is our duty, to appreciate his contributions and honor him by erecting his statue at the premises of White Pagoda Temple, which we could fulfill today. This event is very important in exchange of cultural relation. This contribution from Arniko Society will help to give continuity to the process of development of friendship between Nepal and China.

The President of Arniko Society in his speech told the audience that how the statue of the architect Arniko erected on that day would add the historic significance to the friendly relations between the two ancient civilizations. He also announced that the society, together with the White Pagoda Temple Relics Preservation Bureau, would organize Nepal Festival and Nepal-China Culture Exchange Program every year in the White Pagoda premises.

After the speeches were completed every body went near the statue, the four distinguished persons, Deputy Director of Cultural Relics Conservation Department of Beijing, the Deputy Director of Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, The Royal Nepalese Ambassador and President of Arniko Society cut the ribbons and unveiled the statue. Everybody applauded with enthusiasm amidst the roar of the music produced by Nepalese and Chinese musical instruments. All the people present there admired the statue of the great artist, praised his art and skill in constructing the White Pagoda which is drawing hundreds of people every day and allow them to pray to the Enlightened One and express their devotion to his teachings.

After the unveiling ceremony Nepali snacks and milk tea was served to all the guests. The Nepalese Culture Troupe and the Chinese artists began their performance, which lasted for two hours. The joint Nepal China Culture Program, demonstration of stone statue carving, Photo Exhibition of Scenes from Nepal, Nepali Food Festival, Chinese KungFu demonstration and Nepali Handicraft Exhibition drew huge crowds everyday.

On the 7th of May a closing ceremony of the festive week was held at the premises of White Pagoda in front of the statue of Arniko. Distinguished Chinese guests, Director of White Pagoda Relics Preservation Bureau, His Excellency Royal Nepalese Ambassador, President and members of Arniko Society delegation, Nepalese and Chinese artists and the staff of White Pagoda Bureau, attended the closing function The artists from both countries jointly performed Nepali dances.

On behalf of Arniko Society the Royal Nepalese Ambassador presented the Stone Statue made during the week by a Nepali artist to the White Pagoda Bureau. Both the delegates from Arniko society and the officials of the White Pagoda Bureau congratulated each other for the success of the Statue Unveiling Ceremony and Culture Exchange Week. Arniko society entertained the Chinese friends with a 15 course Nepali dinner.

In memory of the great artist Arniko Society and White Pagoda Relics Preservation Bureau have decided to jointly organize Nepal Festival in the White Pagoda Premises every year in May.

Incription at Arniko's Statue

Arniko was born in Nepal 1244, went to Tibet in 1260 and died in Beijing in 1306. He was a genius. While living in China for more than forty-five years he earned highest imperial positions and honors in Yuan dynasty. He constructed stupas, including the Bai Ta, which was the tallest building in Beijing at that time, temples for Buddhist Taoist and Confucian deities and divinities. He made statues, images and icons, jewelry and other objects for the deities and imperial court. His special style depicting or expressing the amalgamation of traditional processes, objectives and spirit of Nepalese and Chinese arts continued for long time. He founded a workshop to train the Nepalese, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian apprentices in his style of works and architecture. His constructions and creations of arts and architects have earned high-appreciation and admiration for him from Chinese and other people all over the world since hundreds of years.

This statue is dedicated to the memory of the great Artist Arniko on behalf of the Nepalese people by the Arniko Society of Nepal. Date: 25 th October 2001

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