Serpent King (Nagaraja)

Serpent King (Nagaraja)

This dynamic image of a serpent king, or nagaraja, was probably once part of a much larger composition. Shown in a pose of adoration, he was likely positioned at the base of a large Buddha image or reliquary stupa in a Nepalese or Tibetan monastery. At once kneeling and floating in air, he raises his hands in supplication, ready to offer up the treasures of the earth and its waters. Richly gilded and studded with gemstones, a multiheaded cobra hood emerges from behind his crown. The style of this image is associated with the great monastery at Densatil in south-central Tibet, where a group of highly elaborate reliquaries was built between the 13th and 17th centuries. The gilded copper images and friezes of these stupas, destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, resemble Nepalese products of roughly the same period and were probably sculpted by Nepalese craftsmen working in Tibet.

Details

  • Title : Serpent King (Nagaraja)
  • Year : 15th-16th century
  • Classification : Sculpture
  • Medium : gilded copper alloy, gemstones
  • Dimension : Overall: 14 × 13 × 4 1/2 in. (35.56 × 33.02 × 11.43 cm)
  • Accession No : Object Number: 91.555
  • Country/ Geo-location : NEPAL or Tibet
  • Museum : Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
  • Status : Location: G327 - South Asian Galleries