“K-k-k-k-k-k, Kathmandu, think it’s really where I’m going to.” Lyrics from a popular song by Bob Seger in 1975! Little did I know that is where I was “going to” in 2016? Howard Rosen and Mon-Lin Kuo represented SWST at the 4th World Wood Day (WWD) celebrations in Kathmandu, Nepal with the theme Nature and Culture. (See picture). Although World Wood Day is celebrated on March 21st each year, the three pre-events projects began as early as February 27th. About 500 people from 100 countries attended this event and over 40,000 local people participated. The city of Kathmandu is named after the Kasthamandap Temple that means “wood covered shelter” in Sanskrit. The temple was built entirely of wood with no iron nails or metal supports in the 16th century. According to legend, all the timber used to build the pagoda was obtained from a single tree. This temple collapsed during the devastating earthquake on April 25, 2015. We hope that this celebration will spur a more rapid rebirth of the significant wood culture history that Nepal has.
The opening ceremony was highlighted by remarks and a tree planting by the President of Nepal, Bidhya Devi Bhandari. The main event was held at the Nepal Academy in the center of Kathmandu, that consisted of the Hall; which enclosed displays, concerts, symposium presentations, exhibitions, and ceremonies; and the large Outdoor Squares; where wood carving, wood turning, furniture making, folk art, a children’s event, special projects, and individual musical performances were held. Shown here is Andy Chen, a wood turner from the USA, with his wooden lathe. The power is supplied by a young Nepalese child in a bicycle-type mechanism and shows how local people became integrated into the program. This program included over 100 wood carvers from all over the world and people were able to interact with the carvers as these carvers worked.
Four unique projects of the 2016 celebration included an international, collaborative project with 19 artisans from 14 countries that designed and constructed a “Brick by Brick” wooden statue, two architectural projects (the Two-Tiered Temple from Nepal and the US Pavilion, which is shown on the right in the background including the Mexican Atlachinolli Aztec musical group), and the “Elephant in the Room” US wood design project, which was made from recycled Nepalese refuse. All these creative events were concluded with a tree planting ceremony, a visits to two children’s special schools and a senior center, and tours to Kathmandu and its environs. From these tours, it was obvious that Nepal has suffered considerable damage from the 2015 earthquake and has a long recovery and restoration period ahead.
WWD Foundation, Chair
IUFRO 5.10.01 Wood Culture Working Party Chair