Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Stupa (Buddhist Reliquary) - Painting

མཆོད་རྟེན། 佛塔
(item no. 65825)
Origin Location Nepal
Date Range 1900 - 1959
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Object/Concept

Interpretation / Description

Chariot Ritual (Sanskrit: bhimarata): the birthday celebration for an elder of Kathmandu, Nepal, upon reaching the age of 77 years, 7 months and 7 days. This painting was commissioned by a Chitrakar family in 1022 according to the Nepalese calendar (1902, or possibly 1802 c.e.)

Sanskrit: Chaitya Tibetan: Chor ten

The Chariot Ritual is a special birthday celebration. It is practiced by both Hindus and Buddhists and celebrated when an elder of Kathmandu Valley reaches the age of 77 years, 7 months, 7 days, 7 hours and 7 minutes. To commemorate this day, the Buddhists are required to commission the construction of a stupa, an architectural reliquary mound. If unable to build a full sized stupa the family can sponsor a small three-dimensional metal sculpture, or a hammered metal relief sculpture, or lastly a painting. The donor names, ritual and dates are provided on the lower front register of the painting.

Painted during the Shah period this paubha is a good example of the development of later Newar work. The sophistication of Malla period art is clearly missing and is replaced by more lively scenes of donors and festivals. A classic element of later period painting is the introduction of Tibetan style cloud work often supporting the Five Transcendent Buddhas (as seen at the top of the painting). The introduction of landscape and nature becomes more common during the Shah period, along with a more Indian and Western style of figure drawing and landscape painting.

This work of art is not just a painting of a religious and family ritual. It is an historical document that lists the names of the donors, the date (1902) where they lived and the purpose of the ritual. These family names can also be linked to the family donor names on other paintings extending back for centuries.

Please see the article "The Bhimaratha Rite and Nepali Art" by Pratapaditya Pal.

Jeff Watt & David Pritzker 2-2008

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [The donor names, ritual and dates are provided on the lower front register].

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Nepal
Subject: Chariot Ritual