Featured Artisan: Shakyamuni Silver Star
The Shakya family has been creating beautiful jewelry throughout Nepal, India and Tibet for generations. Now all sons live and work in their ancestral home in the Kathmandu Valley. As with previous generations, the father taught his sons traditional jewelry making skills. Recognizing that producing jewelry only for retailers provided limited economic opportunities, he also trained one son in business. In 1977 the sons opened their own shop. At this time, they produced all the jewelry themselves. However, as the business grew, they invited other Buddhist Newari families to work with them. Fourteen families now have a consistent income as a result of their involvement. Tirtha, the youngest son, still does all of the design and finish work and setting of stones. He also trains others in design interpretation and production techniques. The Shakya family has pooled their resources and worked together. After years of hard work, their business is quite successful. However, like many artisans they have been concerned that the younger generation will leave their traditional trade. Fortunately, as the average wage for skilled jewelers is now higher than that of many other jobs, young educated Newaris are beginning to return to jewelry making. Now Tej’s son, Shrawan, has taken over the business from his father and with that the Shakya family is confident that their traditional skills will be passed on to the next generation.