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Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal

Bodhisattva Padmapani from cave 1 at Ajanta monastery in central India
Central India, late 5th century, likely 477
Photograph by Benoy Behl, ca. 1998

This extraordinary mural painting survives from early medieval India, preserved in the interior of the rock-cut Buddhist monastery of Ajanta. It provides the earliest visual evidence of elaborate crowns being worn as signifiers of both princely and divine status. The crowns depicted are the antecedents of those used in Buddhist ritual today by the Vajracharya priests in Nepal.

Exhibition History
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal," December 16, 2017–December 16, 2018.