Surya, the Hindu Solar Deity
Nepal (Kathmandu valley)
H. 5 in. (12.7 cm); W. 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm); D. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm)
Purchase, William Spielman Bequest, in memory of William and Bette-Ann Spielman, 2009
Surya is considered to be the source of light. His origins can be traced to the earliest Indian texts, the Rigveda, and his conventional West Asian mode of dress affirms his links to the solar cults of early Iran. He wears a tunic and high boots typical of early Iranian imagery and holds two flower stems that support lotuses in full bloom—emblems of the power of the sun. Although he was eventually displaced by Vishnu as the principal solar deity, Surya maintained a significant position in the divine hierarchy well into the medieval period.
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