This pata forms a part of a larger composition as seen from the markings “North No. 7” and “East No. 2” at the back. The epithet “Lord-Leader of the Yaksha…” mentioned in the inscription at the back denotes Vaishravana (another name for Kubera, the Lord of the Yakshas), also corroborated by iconographic details.
In the painting, Vaishravana is seen seated on a lotus seat in ardhaparyankasana, with left leg bent and right pendant, wearing embroidered dhoti and bare-bodied except for an upavita (sacred garment) covering the shoulders and falling loosely over the arms. This is so unlike Vaishravana’s usual mail armour and high boots seen in his metal images. The figure has an angry expression; and holds a trident and a mongoose (nakula) in his hands. His expression in the first is enhanced by his coiffure that resembles flame tips. Both figures are framed by pilasters supporting a trefoil arch.
In the top corners of the pata, two figures in alidha (warrior-like) posture, standing with right leg bent and left outstretched, holding a vajra (thunderbolt) and a cup (Vajrapani?). The red and blue background in both paintings has a delicate, sensitive floral design, perhaps inspired by the Chinese and Persian silk cloth (zo-og) regularly imported into Tibet.
Another unusual feature is the Buddhist creed “Ye dharma…etc.” inscribed in Newari characters as a bold border around each painting. Possibly the paintings were commissioned by a Nepali patron and the inscriptions were added late.
The text of the Tibetan inscriptions on the paintings, read for us by David Templeman, is as follows:
On the reverse:
“east no. 2
As for the Lord-Leader of the Yaksha
harm-bringers, the Vajra being,
[he is] dark red, single-faced, and with two hands,
holding both a trishula and a mongoose.
I pay my homage to you 700,000 times.
om supratistha vajra sva ha”
On the front, under the image:
“Homage to the Vajra”
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection
Painting on cloth
c. 15th century CE
28.5 x 27.5 cm