Collections: Asian Art: Vasudhara

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    • Medium: Polychromed wood
    • Place Made: Nepal
    • Dates: 16th century
    • Dimensions: 53 3/4 x 24 x 15 1/2 in. (136.5 x 61 x 39.4 cm)  (show scale)
    • Collections:Asian Art
    • Museum Location: This item is not on view
    • Accession Number: 86.137
    • Credit Line: Gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner
    • Rights Statement: Creative Commons-BY
    • Caption: Vasudhara, 16th century. Polychromed wood, 53 3/4 x 24 x 15 1/2 in. (136.5 x 61 x 39.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner, 86.137. Creative Commons-BY
    • Image: front, 86.137_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    • Catalogue Description: A four-armed goddess holds a book (pustaka) in her upper left hand. Her right upper hand is in abhaya mudra (a gesture meaning "do not fear") while her lower right hand is in a variation on the varada mudra (wish-granting gesture). Her lower left hand may be in vitarka mudra (a teaching gesture), although in its pendant position it is more likely that it held something -- like the stem of a sheaf of corn -- that is now gone. The Goddess wears a colorfully striped lower garment and a crown with a high coiffure. The original color of the body, now faded, was white or yellow. The palms of her hands are painted red. The figure is executed in the round. Eight small figures standing in niches are carved into the base. Originally identified as Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, because of the small book she carries, it is more likely that this figure represents Vasudhara, a Buddhist goddess of wealth and abundance. Much worshipped in Nepal, Vasudhara is usually represented with golden skin and abundant jewelry. She is often depicted holding a book, although it is not her primary attribute. Most often she makes the wish-granting gesture (varada mudra) and holds a sheaf of corn (possibly now missing from her lower left hand). Condition: Figure cracked in the back and left side of lotus base. Upper left arm reinforced by wooden prongs; upper right arm somewhat loose. Separate modern wood base. Polychrome surface has many scattered old losses, particularly on the lower part of head at the front, and on front of lower right arm. Scattered small losses to wood with large piece out at top of upper right arm. Both upper arms are pieces and joints open. Also received separate modern wood base, painted brown, unweighted. (Cube-shaped peg under base of figure fits separate base).
    • Record Completeness: Best (82%)
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    Recent Comments
    05:39 09/9/2010
    The title says Sarasvati, but the text says Vasudhara. One or the other is incorrect. Or both?
    By Doug White
    08:40 04/18/2011
    Sarasvati in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions would be the goddess of knowledge, arts and wisdom...but here the Museum's description refers to her as a goddess of wealth. A clarification from the Museum on this point would be appropriate.
    13:16 04/20/2011
    Hi Doug, Raj - The curator has updated the catalog description field to indicate "Originally identified as Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, because of the small book she carries, it is more likely that this figure represents Vasudhara, a Buddhist goddess of wealth and abundance." The object's title will also change soon, so things are more clear, but that change will take longer to show up in our system. Thanks for the comments so we could clarify.

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