Exhibitions/ Art Object

Ushnishavijaya Enthroned in the Womb of a Stupa

dated 1510–19
Distemper on cloth
Image: 28 7/8 × 23 1/8 in. (73.3 × 58.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Zimmerman Family Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2012
Accession Number:
Not on view
This is one of the earliest extant images of the rarely represented Buddhist goddess Ushnishavijaya. She embodies a magical spell (dharani) recited by practitioners to reach liberation through the accumulation of merit. The power of multiplication in Buddhist merit making is suggested by the many small stupas (chaityas), which symbolically evoke the donation of one hundred thousand stupas. Multi-armed and multi-headed, Ushnishavijaya, white in color (like the autumn moon), is seated in the central stupa, flanked by red and green bodhisattvas and surrounded by the guardians of the eight directions and representations of Tara. As a manifestation of the Buddha’s head protuberance, or ushnisha, she is associated with wisdom. The lowest register shows the consecration scene during the performance of the Lakshachaitya ritual, the dedication of one hundred thousand stupas.
Inscription: Inscribed in Newari: “Consecrated in the year 1510–19 for the donor Sri Jasaraja”
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. "The Arts of Nepal and Tibet: Recent Gifts," January 16, 2016–January 15, 2017.

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