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Crowns of the Vajra Masters: Ritual Art of Nepal

Mandala of the Sun God Surya Surrounded by Eight Planetary Deities
Artist: Kitaharasa
Nepal, early Malla period, dated, likely 1379
Distemper on cloth
Image: 32 5/8 x 21 1/2 in. (82.9 x 54.6 cm)

Zimmerman Family Collection, Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation and Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 2012
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012.462

Surya sits in his chariot and is dressed in the tunic and boots that allude to his west Asian origins. This mandala bears a partially legible date, making it one of only two confirmed surviving Nepalese paintings from the fourteenth century. The inscription names the donor, Bhisnudevesvara, and the artist, Kitaharasa, the latter an extremely rare occurrence in Nepalese art. The mandala was painted to record the performance of the Bhimaratha rite in honor of the donor's birthday. The goddess Ushnisavijaya is invoked so that the donor might be forgiven for his negative karma. This ritual is depicted in the lower register, with a Vajracharya priest performing a fire sacrifice. At the center is a portrait of the donor, his hands raised in the gesture of offering homage to Surya, and his extended family appears at right.

Inscription: Inscribed in Newari: “In the year . . . [likely 1379] painted by Kitaharasa”

Exhibition History
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Tibetan and Nepalese Art: Recent Acquisitions," September 17, 2013–February 2, 2014.

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