This rare, masterful example of Nepalese repoussé depicts Vishnu in flight astride his half-bird, half-human mount, Garuda. He displays a flaming discus and a club in his two raised hands and a conch in his lowered hand. Atop his wings are diminutive figures of his wives— Lakshmi, goddess of fortune, and Bhudevi, the earth goddess—hands raised in reverence. Vishnu was the premier deity of the north Indian Gupta clan, and Garuda was their dynastic symbol. This association with royalty was continued by the Licchavi royal household in Nepal. The inscription refers to Vishnu Garudadhvaja (“One Whose Banner is Garuda,”) the Gupta clan symbol. This relief served as a protective sheath for a stone icon of the same subject and is the oldest known example outside Nepal.
Inscription: Inscribed in Sanskrit: “In the year 1004 . . .in the Jichchodgesu district of the Nepal mandala, the devout Sri Lipa gave (this) covering [kosa] to Garudadhaja”