Pair of Manuscript Covers

Patron: Srinivasa Malla (r. 1661-1684)
Historical period(s)
17th century
Opaque watercolor, gold, wood
H x W x D: 12.6 x 25.5 x 1.1 cm (4 15/16 x 10 1/16 x 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Anonymous gift
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript cover

Brahma, Buddhism, bull, dance, Ganesha, Garuda, goose, lion, makara, Nepal, Parvati, portrait, priest, Sarasvati, Shiva, Vishnu, WWII-era provenance

From 1967 to 1995
Private collector, purchased in Patan, Nepal, in 1967 [1]

From 1995
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, given by a private collector in 1995


[1] According to the donor, these covers were purchased on October 8, 1967 in Patan, former capital of the Patan Kingdom, Nepal, and once protected a now unidentifiable but surely brahmanical text. They entered the United States in early 1970 (according to Provenance Remark 1, Vidya Dehejia, March 16, 1995, in the object record).

Previous Owner(s)

Dr. Mary Shepherd Slusser American, 1918-2017


King Shrinivasa Malla (1661-1684) received spiritual merit for commissioning this sacred manuscript, a pious act that is reiterated in his portrait as a devotee bearing a lotus offering. The similarity between the lotus blossom and the king's red-tinged eye visualizes a poetic metaphor of ideal beauty that first emerged in ancient India. Although we cannot name the king's Brahmin priest depicted on both covers or the royal elephant receiving the priest's offerings, they were undoubtedly well known at the Nepalese court. These images also may have been viewed as portraits.

Both paintings are located on the interior faces of the wooden covers. The outer covers, which were the visual focus of devotees during rituals, bear representations of deities.

Published References
  • Dr. Mary Shepherd Slusser. Nepal Mandala: A Cultural Study of the Kathmandu Valley. 2 vols, Princeton. pl. 68.
  • Pratapaditya Pal. Nepal: Where the Gods are Young. Exh. cat. New York. pp. 134-135, pl. 94 a-b.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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