Nepal: Where the Gods are Young, The Asia Society, New York, 1975
Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2003
Thanka Art, pl.T.; Art News, vol.73, March 1974, no.3, p.97
Pal 1975, no.43
Pal 1978b, pl.72
Pal 2003, no.32, p.60
om sristanyayaksi,srimani // sreyostu samvat 485 magha krsna titithau yokoche khila xx paksa khadvasurisa datara krta iya vasudhara pata //
acaju srijulo vahara raju jusana vamtasohasake dajaka guthisamuhaske dunta juro // xxx ju jasaraja jirilasyam liksita jasapta subhamastu //
"The great milk Yakshi, the great Jewel. May it be auspicious. In the Year 485 [C.E. 1365] on the Third day or tithi of the dark half of The month of Magha [January-February] the inhabitants of Yokoche ... Paksa, and Khadvasuri, The donors, commissioned this painting of Vasudhara. The priest teacher (acaju, in Sanskrit, acarya) sri Julo, Vahara, and Raju are ... responsible for establishing the Guthi. Jasaraja Jirila painted (liksita) this painting (jasapta)"
This sumptuous Vasudhara mandala is the earliest recorded Nepalese paubha that contains a date within its dedicatory inscription, and was painted in 1365 by Jasaraja Jirila. It may be assumed that Jasaraja Jirila was a Newar from the Kathmandu valley. Although nothing is known of the artist mentioned in the inscription his work remains one of the finest and most important of the relatively small corpus of early Buddhist and Hindu paintings from the Kathmandu Valley. Details are drawn with consummate finesse, charm and sensitivity, no more so than in the animated scenes of worship, music and dance below. Choice pigments are used throughout creating a vibrant palette, with subtle shades complimenting the predominant vermillion and midnight blue that define the early painting of Nepal. The ordered geometric schema belies the dynamism in the structure of the painting, with a sense of radiating expansion from the calm sanctuary at its centre. The distinctive shrines with cusped arches at the ordinal points are a common feature of Vasudhara mandalas from this early period, cf. a mandala of circa 1400 in a private collection, see Pal 2003, cat. no.33. And the overall format is typical for Newar painting with the inclusion of ritual scenes and portraits of the painting's donors below; and with each framed episode from the Suchandra avadana and the Great Miracles depicted with alternating and acutely contrasting backgrounds, deep red to dark blue or white, a conventional Nepalese device used already in 12th century manuscript cover illustration, see Zwalf 1985, pls.169, 172. A consecratory practise peculiar to Nepalese painting, of placing a tablet of gold beneath the painted surface at the heart of the principal deity, may explain the darkened square seen on the upper body of Vasudhara, see Bruce-Gardner 1975, pp.378-81.
The Buddhist goddess Vasudhara is worshipped in Nepal as bestower of prosperity, and is depicted at the centre of the painting holding emblems of wealth and abundance and symbols of the Buddhist faith. The scenes in the side registers and the lower of the two upper registers refer to episodes from the legend of Suchandra whose son stole bricks from a stupa: the sacrilegious act resulted in the breakdown of the family and the loss of their wealth. Suchandra supplicated the Buddha with meagre offerings, all that he could muster in his straightened circumstances. The Buddha advised that he worshipped Vasudhara, and his wealth was restored. The story promotes the devotional worship of the goddess and is often included in Nepalese Vasudhara mandalas, see Pal 1975, p.82. Indeed Vasudhara is one of the most popular goddesses in Nepal. According to mythology she is the consort of the king of the nature spirits who are invoked for bountiful harvests: Vasudhara is traditionally depicted holding a sheaf of grain in one of her left hands. Furthermore the inscription pays homage to Vasudhara as sristanyayakshi, srimani, the great milk yakshi, the great jewel, equating wealth and prosperity with the ownership of cattle and the bountiful production of milk, see Pal 2003, p.280 for the translation and interpretation of the inscription by Gautama V. Vajracharya. This exquisite Vasudhara mandala was painted during the reign of the Nepalese Malla king Jayarjunadeva (r.1361-1382), a period of relative calm in Nepal following recent punishing Muslim raids, and remains a document to the artistic genius that made Newar artists famed and sought-after throughout the Himalayan region, and as far afield as the Chinese imperial courts of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.
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