Paubha Painting represents the rich ancient cultural heritage of the indigenous Newari community of the Kathmandu valley in Nepal. Paubha Art is based on the Hindu and Buddhist philosophy. According to the Vajrayan theology of Buddhism, all beings have buddhahood in them and can attain this state of high perfection if the mind is lifted from ignorance. In a step by step manner one achieves state of Bodhichitta and is prepared for enlightenment. Paubha art by explaining this path to Buddhahood helps the practitioner to achieve it. In the Hindu and Buddhist tradition paubha painting hold the same sacred place as the idols of Hindu and Buddhist god and goddesses which are worshiped by the devotees. Thus Paubha paintings are considered a sacred art and the individual who paints them are considered celestial beings even though being a material subject, fulfilled with celestial properties.
A unique heritage of the Newars, paubha painting developed as a part of century old cultural outpouring of the three dynamic city of the Kathmandu valley namely Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu. Art that can be definitively called Paubha goes back to 7th century as Art historians debate about and still a subject of wide research and indepth study. The lack of examples of the earlier form of this art can be ascribed to the fragility of the medium in which it is painted and the tradition of replacing old paintings with the new one.
The tradition of holding utmost secrecy in the manners of conducting this age old tradition of painting as well to the sacredness it holds in the Hindu and Buddhist philosophy has also in a way lead to its decline and decay of the rich heritage. The oldest known survivor, an image of Ratna Sambhav, now adorning the walls of Los Angeles County Museum belongs to the 13th century. Even though being an ancient art the tradition is still continued to present day by certain â€œChitrakarâ€ and other families in Kathmandu valley. The exact details of conducting the traditional painting method maybe lost but the art is still surviving and recently has gained an upsurge in the conscious community in Kathmandu and is gaining widespread recognition in the western world.