Skip Navigation


Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, Arts of the Himalayas, 2nd floor
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)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1970, provenance not yet documented; by April 1970, acquired by Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner of New York, NY; 1986, gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    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).
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, Arts of the Himalayas, 2nd floor
    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 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.137_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 86.137_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.