Dirgha Man Chitrakar was the second son of the painter Laxmi Lal. He first began his traditional painting education under his father, as was customary among the Chitrakars. Chitrakars of Nepal are officially painters by their cast. Maharaja Chandra Shamsher (governed 1901-1929), Prime Minister of Nepal, took Dirgha Man into his employment within his palace, Singha Durbar. Here Dirgha Man was given a post of painter and photographer.
Prime Minister Chandra Shamsher in 1908, Dirgha Man was the official photographer of the entourage. There he had an opportunity to study a little bit of European art, which is reflected in one of his paintings. The several oil paintings of Dirgha Man are preserved till this day in the National Museum of Nepal, the parliament building, and among various private collections.
Dirgha Man is said to have been quite adept in his art. He worked till late in his life. At the age of 71, he resigned from his position at the court of the Maharajas.
It is interesting to note that on the third official prime ministerial level visit to England done only in 1996 by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Kiran Man Chitrakar, the grandson of Dirgha Man accompanied the entourage as the official cameraman of Nepal Television.
Dirgha Man’s only son, Ganesh Man Chitrakar was also working along with his father in the court until 1950. Then in 1952, after Nepal began to open up to the outside world and the first development organizations set up office in the country, Ganesh Man was given a post at the USAID.
The first aerial photographs of the Kathmandu Valley were taken by him at this time. In 1979 he was presented with an award by the Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO for his photographic achievements. Following his retirement, Ganesh Man devoted himself to the expansion of a photographic and developing studio, Ganesh Photo Lab, which opened at the end of the 1960s, and he became the first person in the country to develop color slides.
Their photographs are published in the following well-acclaimed books.
- Kathmandu Valley Vol. I & II , The Preservation of Physical Environment and Cultural Heritage, A Protective Inventory. Prepared by His Majesty’s Government of Nepal in collaboration with the United Nations and UNESCO, 1975.
- Nepal Rediscovered, 1986.
- Images of a Century, 1995.
- Changing Faces of Nepal – The Glory of Asia’s Past, 1997.
The three oldest cameras that Dirgha Man and Ganesh Man used together with about 3000 glass negatives are still in the family’s possession.
- An American camera, R.B. Graflex, Patented on June 7, 1927 by the Folmer Graflex Corporation of Rochester with a Cooke Anastigmat lens no 216742, 6 ½”, 165mm, f/25
- An English camera, a Comper made by Houghtons Ltd of London with a C P Goerz (Berlin) lens and accessories from Altrincham ‘Thornton Pickard’ England
- A camera with a German lens produced by Hugo Meyer & CO no. 468191, Aristoplanat 1:7.7, foc 17 ¾ inches.
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