Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Relief Plaque of Hindu Deity, Probably Processional: Face of a Deity

probably 14th–16th century
Nepal (Kathmandu Valley)
Repoussé copper alloy
H. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm); W. 5 1/16 in. (12.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Marie-Hélène and Guy Weill, 1986
Accession Number:
Not on view
These "masks" were likely intended for use in the creation of lifelike effigies of the gods, the metal face to be affixed to a carrying frame and the figures dressed in textiles. Such constructions were intended for processional use, as seen in related practices in the Hindu communities of Himachal Pradesh, in the western hills of north India, where image-palanquins of this type are carried by devotees during festivals.
Inscription: Transliteration:

1) samvat 837 bhādrava kṛṣṇa dasmi-
2) yātithau puṣya nakṣatra siddhi yogya
3) vṛhaspativālasare yate dine jhīkhā (ṣā?)
4) ci kutra virāthabhuka siddha guhasi
5) śrī 3 cakrasamra śri 3 hyeruka dayakaṃ thā
6) panā yāṅā thva pratiṣţāsa o bāhā na-
7) ka bahicāyā vajrācāryya śri bekhā
8) si devajuyāta śrī ratna mukuta sakalya
9) yānā juro, thvateyā jojamāna, obāhā
10) rakuna cheyā, vi(ci?) tāmuni, sayau torayā pakhā
11) cheyā ratna muni deva, maduri pa(ya?) nāsva (mva) la naniyā nala
12) siha deva, thvate somha samucayana, dohorapā, thva makuta sunāna lobha
13) yātasa paṃca mahā pāpa rāka juro. thvatiyā jojamāna yāryathā sāttrapha-
14) ti śubha maṃgara sarvvadā.

On Thursday, the tenth of the dark half of Bhādra, during the Puṣyā nakṣatra and the Siddha yoga, the...image(s?) of śrī 3 Cakrasaṃvara, (and?) śrī 3 Heruka was/were made and consecrated by śrī Bekhāsi deva Vajrācārya of Naka Bahicā of O Bāhā; (for this consecration) this jewelled crown was made by his clients, Vitāmuni of O Bāhā, rakuna che; Ratnamuni deva of Pakhā che (wall house) in Sayau tole; and Nala siha deva of Maduri panāsvala nani; these three 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.

The inscription is written in relatively incorrect Newari, with numerous misspellings.

The fourth line of the inscription, while legible, is extremely difficult to interpret. It may refer to a place, and further may refer to a place in Tibet, since line three ends with "Jhikhā" and four begins with "ci....", which may be a reference to Shigatse, and the rest of the line may be transliterated Tibetan.

The śrī 3 Cakrasamvara and śrī 3 Heruka of the inscription may be repetition referring to the same image; or possibly two images, one of another deity, possibly Hevajra.

Prepared by Ian Alsop, Santa Fe; 19 July 1992
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