Vasudeva-Kamalaja
14th century
Copper alloy with inlay and remains of gilding
22.2 cm (8¾ in)
Provenanace
Exhibited
Publications

This finely-rendered early Nepalese figure of Vasudeva-Kamalaja depicts a composite image of Vishnu (on the proper right) and Lakshmi (on the proper left). Examples of this iconographic composite are rare and technically challenging, requiring the artist to capture two deities in one cohesive form. In addition to the identification of their standard attributes, sophisticated casting incorporating each deity's other unique traits—such as the longer dhoti or the slightly longer hair beneath the crown on Lakshmi’s side—also distinguishes one deity from the other.

The sculpture exemplifies the bold yet elegant corporeal sensibility of early Malla works, achieved by a contrast between the powerful frontal stance and the soft rendering of a substantial yet languid physique.  The elegant rendering of features combined with the masterful illusion of a supple surface in the present example make it a classic illustration of Newari craftsmanship.  Compare the Vishnu from the Heeramaneck Collection (Pal, P., The Art of Nepal, A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection, 1985, p.110, fig. S31) which has similar proportions to the present example; the treatment of the details—such as the simple armlets, earrings, and flower pattern on the dhoti found in both figures—also points to the early Malla period; also compare a very closely-related figure of Vasudeva-Kamalaja recently acquired by the Yale University Art Gallery (2017.54.17).

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