Gilt copper alloy, inlaid with semiprecious stones
H. 12 in. (30.5 cm); W. 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm); D. 6 3/4 in. (17.1 cm)
Gift of Lynne and Robert Rubin, 1985
Not on view
Elaborate crowns such as this example were worn by the hereditary Vajracarya Buddhist priests of Nepal, who occupy the highest rank in the Nepalese Buddhist community. Vajracarya is both a caste and a family name, and the designation entitles it holders to perform reserved priestly functions, analogous to the privileges held by Brahmans in Hinduism. This crown is dominated by five diadem plaques and surmounted by a half-vajra. The dated inscription records that it was commissioned by two named devotees, to be worn on the occasion of the consecration of newly installed icons of Chakrasamvara and Heruka. The consecrations were performed by srī Bekhāsi deva Vajrācārya of Naka Bahicā of OBāhā, "on Thursday, the 10th of the dark half of Bhādra, during the Pusyā naksatra and the Siddha yoga" (1717). The inscription concludes by listing the punishments incurred by those who covet the crown as well as the merits earned by its donors, extolling: "[May it be] auspicious for all time."
Inscription: Inscription on the back of a Vajarācārya's crown:
Translation: On Thursday, the 10th of the dark half of Bhādra, during the Pusyā naksatra and the Siddha yoga, the ...image(s?) of srī 3 Cakrasamvara (and?) sri 3 Heruka was/were made and consecrated by srī Bekhāsi deva Vajrācārya of Naka Bahicā of OBāhā; (for this consecration) this jewelled crown was made by his clients, Vitāmuni of OBāhā, rakuna che; Ratnamuni deva of Pakhā che (wall house) in Sayau tole; and Nala siha deva of Maduri panāsvala nani; these three he offered it together: Whoever covets this crown, may he incur the results of the five great sins. (As a result of the merit of this act, may the donors obtain...) (May it be) auspicious for all time.
(Trans. by Ian Alsop, Santa Fe, 19 July 1992)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Himalayas," December 15, 2010–December 4, 2011.