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Amulet with Vishnu and Garuda flanked by Apsarasas

Nepal - Gold, semi-precious stones and glass - Dia 10,5 cm - 19th-20th century


At the centre of this amulet the most important Hindu god of the Nepal Valley is depicted—Vishnu, the guarantor and preserver of cosmic order. The attributes characterising his

iconography are: the disc held in his upper right hand, the symbol of the law and of the changing existence; the club brandished by the upper left hand, the emblem of original knowledge; the lotus flower held in the lower right hand, representing the force of action from which the universe rises; and the conch, held in the lower left hand, representing the origin of being. The image of Vishnu takes a political significance in the Nepal Valley, if we consider that the king of Nepal is believed to be an earthly manifestation of this god. The king is thus the guarantor of political order and its restorer, in case it becomes compromised.

Often, as in this case, Vishnu is shown riding a Garuda, a mythical being with a bird-man hybrid nature. Garuda holds in his claws the tails of two Nâgas, serpent beings inhabiting and protecting the underground whose origin is linked to ancient cults dating from the time of the Indus Valley civilisation, here displaying the gesture of homage (namaskâra-mudrâ).

Subjects like this are particularly popular and appreciated in Newar jewellery.1 


  [1] Jane Casey Singer, Gold Jewelry from Tibet and Nepal, Thames and Hudson, London 1996, pp. 42 e 89.




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