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Carlos Cruañas

Temple strut with male deity
14th-15th c.
Wood with pigments
H. 118 cm.

One of the most typical and attractive features of brick and wooden temples and other buildings in Nepal are the wooden struts that support the eaves of the pitched roofs. They are all carved with figures and themes of nature such as those shown in this fine example.

As is characteristic of these struts, the space is divided into three unequal segments. At the bottom there is an erotic portrayal of a couple, possibly cowherds, in rocky scenery. The man (whose erect pennies has broken off) is naked. He tries to grasp the woman (whose skirt slips down showing her sex) while holding on to the vessel she is carrying. Above them is a figure who is crowned and dressed like a prince and whose legs are crossed in a characteristic posture of Krishna. However his left foot is resting on a bull, he has the third eye in the middle of his forehead and, to the right of his faced, a serpent lifts its head. These three features –bull, third eye and serpent- are attributes of Shiva. He is holding a flask or vessel with a lid in his right hand, and with his left hand touches the tree that appear in all its splendor over his head. A beautiful peacock peeps out from the foliage. The slender shape of the leaves suggest it is the wish-fulfilling tree (kalpavriksa). A consummate artist carved this slim, graceful figure, elegant and full of life.

Published in "Arte Sagrado de las Tradiciones Indicas". Casa Asia, Barcelona 2005.

all text, images Carlos Cruañas


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