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Nepal 9th – 11th Centuries

Nepalese small devotional sculptures of the ninth through eleventh centuries are characterized by being solid-cast (not hollow cast), having crowns with three peaks and mismatched earrings. The skirts are decorated with horizontal bands and a belt that falls as a heavy tassle between the legs. The figures are fleshy, modeled with full breasts, high waists and thick thighs.

Tara, Bodhisattva of Compassion
Nepal (figure) Licchavi Period (500-1200),
Tibet (mandorla), 13th-15th century
Mercury-gilded copper alloy, silver, turquoise, colors
Purchase 1920 Dr. Albert Shelton Collection  20.453a,b


Tara or Lakshmi, Bodhisattva of Compassion
Nepal, 11th century (Licchavi Period 4th -12th century)
Copper-alloy with gilding
Purchase 1970, The Members’ Fund  70.2


Nepal 14th-16th century

Often considered a golden age of Nepalese art, the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries was a period when numerous Newar artists (a distinct ethnic group in Nepal) traveled widely into neighboring India, Tibet and Bhutan. Some Newars were honored as visiting artists at the court of Kublai Khan, founder of the Chinese Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). Newar artistic styles thus had an enormous impact on Tibetan-Buddhist art in Tibet, Bhutan, China, and later Mongolia. Indeed, there is much controversy today if many pieces that survive from this period were made by Newar artists or Tibetan artists working in a Newar style. Elements of this celebrated Newar style include five-peaked crowns, ornate jewelry in floral and beaded styles, heavily beaded waistbands and a rolled hem that finished a clingy lower garment. One distinguishing factor between Tibetan and Nepalese sculptures is the types of stones they prefer to inset into the deities’ jewelry. Tibetans prefer opaque stones, like turquoise and coral. Nepalese often include transparent stones, like garnet, spinel or rock crystal.

Tibet or Nepal, 14th-16th century
Copper alloy, mercury gilding, colors
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Wesley Halpert, 1984  84.405


Nepal, 14th-15th century,
Malla period (1200-1603)
Colors on cloth
Purchase 1981
The Members’ Fund  81.361


Tibet or Nepal, 14th-16th century
Copper alloy, mercury gilding, cold gold,
turquoise, colors
Gift of Dr. Wesley Halpert and Mrs.
Carolyn M. Halpert, 1988  88.701A


Vasudhara, Goddess of Abundance
Nepal, 15th-16th century
Copper alloy, mercury gilding, colors
Bequest of Eleanor Olson, 1982  82.71


Nepal 17th-18th century

Nepalese artists and patrons of the seventeenth century preferred halos that encircled just the figure’s head not the entire body. The halo come to a small point at the top of the head and is modeled with many small, single petals—appearing serrated.

Maitreya, Buddha of the Future
Nepal, 17th century
Copper alloy, mercury gilding, colors
Gift of Paul and Herman Jaehne, 1941  41.1394


Indra, King of the Gods and Rain with Indrani
Nepal, 16th-17th century
Copper alloy, mercury gilding, colors, turquoise
Purchase 1964 Jasper E. and Edward N. Crane Fund  64.2


Nepal 19th Century

During the nineteenth century, Nepalese artists emphasized greater amounts of pierce-work in their metal casting—creating elaborate raised undulating foliate halos that encircled entire figures. Artists also chose to blend elements of new styles from China, India and Iran (Persia). Chinese-style scalloping was incorporated into throne bases. Nepalese painters sometimes painted trompe-l’oeil images of Chinese silk brocades—as seen the painting. Very bright, yet flat colors characteristic of northern Indian painting below came into fashion. Additionally, clothing styles of ascetics and donors, as shown in the painting, resonate with northern Indian styles. Flying garland-bearers (Vidyadhara) appear against clouds that have thin tails, typical of Persian manuscript illuminations.

Sukhavati Lokeshvara with Consort
Raktataraand Amitabha
Nepal, 1818, Shah Dynasty (1768-1990)
Mercury-gilded copper alloy
Anonymous Gift, 1931  31.334


Sukhavati Lokeshvara with Consort
Raktatara in Sukhavati Paradise
Nepal, 1849
Colors on cloth
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Wesley Halpert
in Honor Eleanor Olsen 1980



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