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Three Licchavi Period Sculptures Under One Roof: The Solomon Family Collection of Nepalese Art (Part One)

The art of the Licchavi period (c. 200–879), which marks the beginning of documented Nepalese history, has deservedly received great attention from art historians and enthusiasts of Nepalese art alike. The works of this period are highly significant not only because this is the earliest time that fine Nepalese art on a par with contemporaneous Indian works began to manifest in stone and metal sculpture, but also because the masterpieces of this period remained influential throughout the history of Nepalese art. A contemporaneous inscription on a broken stone pedestal found near Chabahil Stupa in the Kathmandu valley refers additionally to exquisite wall paintings (Vajracharya, 1973, pp. 1–2), although no painted work of this era has as yet been found. The sculptural works of this early period are also rare; inscribed examples even more so. I am delighted to present here the first of three Licchavi sculptures in the Solomon Family Collection: an inscribed copper statue of the Newar ancestor god Indra (Fig. 1). The other two sculptures, previously unpublished, will be discussed in Part Two.

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March/April 2020
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