From the early Licchavi period, Garudasana Vishnu (Vishnu riding on his mount Garuda- halfman and half bird) seems to have been a popular theme among the artists of Nepal.
One of the earliest examples of Garudasana Vishnu can be found at Changu Narayana T emple, a repousse work, dated A.D. 607. Another such icon was located in Hyumat-tol Kathmandu (PI. 3.5). The relief was actually fixed in ;I niche on the left corner of the Kumari shrine.
The unusual aspect noticed in the relief was the representation of two seated female divinities on either side of Vishnu. This is a rare example of stone sculpture in Nepal. It is interesting to note that there is a similar gilt repousse plaque of Garuda Vishnu, which is inscribed and dated A.D. 1004, now in the collection of Jack Zimmermann in New York (Bangdel, 1987 PI. 175). Between the two art works referred to above, there are only minor differences in the execution of the theme, particularly in the seated posture of the two female divinities. In the Hyumat-tol relief (PI. 34), Vishnu was seen riding on Garuda, holding his attributes in his four hands. His upper right hand held a wheel, but his upper left hand, which should have held a mace, was partly broken, and only the upper part of the mace was visible in the relief. Similarly, both the front hands and also the knees o f Vishnu were mutilated. The god wore a crown, earrings, a necklace, armlets, bracelets and a sacred thread.
The entire frontal part of Garuda was damaged; however, his outspread wings, with tail-feathers on which the two female divinities were seated, looked most impressive. The two female figures could be identified as Vishnu’s consorts: Shree devi and Bhu Devi. They were shown sitting on the lotus, each holding a lotus flower and an unidentified object, in adoration of their lord, Vishnu.
The figure of Vishnu was fully modeled. The delineation of his crown and face were close to the Visvarupa Vishnu from Changu Narayana (PI. 79). On the basis of comparative study, the Hyumat-to1 Garudasana Vishnu could be assigned to the 10th century A.D. This unique relief was stolen in the late 1970’s.
Pratapaditya Pal, “Three Dated Nepali Bronzes and
Their Stylistic Significance”, Archives of Asian Art, vol.
25. (1971-72), Fig. 4.
Lain S. Bangdel, 2 500 Years of Nepalese Art, VEB A. E .
Seemann Verleg (Leipzig GDR, 1987), PI. 8 1 .
- Title : Garudasana Vishnu
- Year : 10th century A.D.
- Medium : Grey limestone
- Dimension : Ht. 14 inches
- Accession No : Stolen in the late 1970's
- Country/ Geo-location : Hyumat-tot, Kathmandu
- Museum : Stolen Images of Nepal – Lain S.Bangdel