Painting on Hindu Themes

This rather large Nepalese paubha/pata is devoted to the Hindu deities Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and their companions. They are shown enshrined in two superimposed temples separated by a wide plain band, bearing a short inscription in Newari. The inscription contains the date Nepal Samvat 835 (A.D. 1715).

The uppermost temple represents a stone sikhara of pancayatana plan, i.e., a principal temple surrounded by four smaller structures of which only two are shown in the painting. In the central ground-floor shrine of the principal temple is the goddess Devi Mahisasura-mardini flanked by a pair of standing deities. Above her are eight small shrines each of which contains a sivalinga, aniconic symbol of the god Shiva. Enshrined in the temple’s two subsidiary structures are a dancing (?) Ganesa, left, and an unidentified deity on the right. The latter is quite damaged and may not be identifiable. Depicted standing in a row above the temple are Vishnu’s ten principal avatars (dasavatara). Beginning from the left they are the fish, turtle, boar, Narasimha, the dwarf, Parasurama (?), Rama, Balarama, Shakyamuni Buddha, and the horse Kalkin. Around the temple are fourteen, four-armed standing deities, seven on each side. They appear to represent fourteen of the possible twenty-four permutations of the four symbols (club, lotus, wheel, conch shell) held by the Supreme Vishnu. If so, why permutations are missing needs to be explained.

The base of this temple is the inscribed and dated panel which interrupts the tiled roof of Newar-style brick and wood temple in the lower register. In this temple Vishnu is depicted in the center of an arcade composed of carved wood columns. In the flanking arcades are Laksmi, left, and Ganesa, right. Standing in each lower corner of the painting is a deity above which are two seated braman priests, each displaying a manuscript in his right hand. The three figures on the right, deity and priests, are largely effaced.

The painting incorporates a few landscape elements such a row of snow-covered mountains at the top and a few scattered trees. It employs various colors among which red and yellow predominate.

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Historical period(s)
1715
Medium
Distemper on cotton cloth
Dimensions
H x W: 96.5 x 72.8 cm (38 x 28 11/16 in)
Geography
Nepal
Credit Line
Gift of A. Peter Burleigh
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1999.2
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Painting

Keywords
Balarama, boar, Buddha, Buddhism, Devi, fish, Ganesha, Garuda, Hinduism, horse, Kalkin, Kurma, Lakshmi, Lingam, lotus, Matsya, Narasimha, Nepal, Parasurama, Rama, Shiva, shrine, temple, turtle, Varaha, Vishnu, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

1981
Sale, Sotheby's, New York, June 29, 1981, lot no. 128 [1]

To 1999
A. Peter Burleigh, New York to 1999

From 1999
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, given by A. Peter Burleigh in 1999

Notes:

[1] According to Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

A. Peter Burleigh

Description

This rather large Nepalese paubha/pata is devoted to the Hindu deities Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, and their companions. They are shown enshrined in two superimposed temples separated by a wide plain band, bearing a short inscription in Newari. The inscription contains the date Nepal Samvat 835 (A.D. 1715).

The uppermost temple represents a stone sikhara of pancayatana plan, i.e., a principal temple surrounded by four smaller structures of which only two are shown in the painting. In the central ground-floor shrine of the principal temple is the goddess Devi Mahisasura-mardini flanked by a pair of standing deities. Above her are eight small shrines each of which contains a sivalinga, aniconic symbol of the god Shiva. Enshrined in the temple's two subsidiary structures are a dancing (?) Ganesa, left, and an unidentified deity on the right. The latter is quite damaged and may not be identifiable. Depicted standing in a row above the temple are Vishnu's ten principal avatars (dasavatara). Beginning from the left they are the fish, turtle, boar, Narasimha, the dwarf, Parasurama (?), Rama, Balarama, Shakyamuni Buddha, and the horse Kalkin. Around the temple are fourteen, four-armed standing deities, seven on each side. They appear to represent fourteen of the possible twenty-four permutations of the four symbols (club, lotus, wheel, conch shell) held by the Supreme Vishnu. If so, why permutations are missing needs to be explained.

The base of this temple is the inscribed and dated panel which interrupts the tiled roof of Newar-style brick and wood temple in the lower register. In this temple Vishnu is depicted in the center of an arcade composed of carved wood columns. In the flanking arcades are Laksmi, left, and Ganesa, right. Standing in each lower corner of the painting is a deity above which are two seated braman priests, each displaying a manuscript in his right hand. The three figures on the right, deity and priests, are largely effaced.

The painting incorporates a few landscape elements such a row of snow-covered mountains at the top and a few scattered trees. It employs various colors among which red and yellow predominate.

Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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