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Wei Asian Arts
Chinese and Southeast Asian Works of Art

Section of a mandorla with Garuda and Naga
Tibet
XVIII century
Gilt copper repousse
L: 40cm

In the lower part representing a Naga with a human body above the waist and with a long serpentís tail. It wears ornaments and a long silk scarf draped over the shoulders. The Naga has a canopy of five small snakes which are rooted into a single union along the spine. It appears in peaceful form presenting an offer to Garuda.

The nagas are snake spirits that inhabit the underworld. They find their origin in the ancient snake cults of India.

In the upper part of the fragment we find a representation of Garuda, a mythical bird often depicted as half animal and half human. Here Garuda shows his combined bird and human natures, with a bird face and human torso, human arms and bird legs. Garuda, as a bird, is associated with the sky and as such he is the enemy of the snake, associated with the earth and water.

all text, images © Wei Asian Arts

 

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