Acala, The Buddhist Protector

Period: early Malla period

Date: 15th century

Culture: Nepal, Kathmandu Valley

Medium: Distemper and gold on cloth

Dimensions: Overall: 32 x 26 1/2 in. (81.3 x 67.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Perry J. Lewis, 1994

Accession Number: 1994.452


The Museum's collection of Nepalese art includes a superb group of gilt-copper sculptures of the ninth through the fifteenth century and a fine assortment of painted book covers of the tenth through the fourteenth century. The rare tradition of larger-scale painting from Nepal is represented by only two other paubhas (paintings on cloth).

This paubha, with its vibrant palette and kinetic arabesques, depicts the Buddhist guardian deity Chandamaharoshana, whose name may be translated as "violent" (chanda) and "very wrathful" (maharoshana). He is believed to annihilate all evil with his anger. Framed by flames, he kneels on a raised throne and brandishes a sword with his left hand. An elaborate archway with foliate volutes supported by fantastical columns on vase-shaped bases rises above him. He is surrounded by a host of auxiliary deities. As is usual in Nepalese paubhas, the donors of the painting are shown in one of the lower corners (here the left) and the monks officiating at the offerings are depicted in the other. In Tibet, Chandamaharoshana is known as Achala, the immovable.