Mandala of the Sun God Surya


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 252

This mandala is devoted to the solar deity Surya, seen riding in his solar chariot drawn by seven horses, his charioteer commanding the team. Two goddesses accompany him, shooting arrows to drive away the darkness. The eight planetary deities encircle Surya’s mandala. The painting bears a partially legible date, making it one of only two confirmed fourteenth-century Nepalese paintings. The inscription names the donor, Bhisnudevesvara, and the artist, Kitaharasa, the latter an extremely rare occurrence in Nepalese art. It declares that the work commemorates the donor’s performance of a ceremony to expunge him of negative karma, the result of misdeeds. This ritual appears in the lower register, with a Vajracharya priest at left performing a fire sacrifice and the repentant donor at center undergoing some form of exorcism accompanied by musicians while his family, assembled at right, observes.

Mandala of the Sun God Surya, Kitaharasa, Distemper on cotton, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley

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