Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, possibly Deopatan
H. 18 5/8 in. (47.3 cm); W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm)
Purchase, The Christian Humann Foundation Gift, 1991
Yakshas are nature deities venerated in the subcontinent since antiquity. In Buddhism they served as guardians of the underworld’s treasures. They are typically represented as obese dwarfs and are renowned for their mischievous and malevolent nature if not appeased. Here a bearded figure with a deeply furrowed brow, a headband, and jewelry squats in a rocky grotto. The stylized rock formations rendered in perspective derive from northern India conventions exemplified in the sixth-century mural painting at Ajanta. This panel likely functioned as a caryatid supporting a pillar of a Licchavi-period religious structure, a shrine, or pavilion (mandapa).
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