Himalayan Art Resources

Nepal: Kasa Malla Kingdom (Sculpture)

Nepal Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description
- Introduction by Laura A. Weinstein (below)
- Khasa Malla Description by Ian Alsop
- Nepalese Dated Works
- Masterworks
- Confusions: Malla Period
- Others...

Jeff Watt [updated 3-2018]

Introduction by Laura A. Weinstein:

This stylistic milieu is that which contemporary art historians have associated with the Khasa Malla kingdom, a realm which encompassed a large portion of modern-day western Nepal and western Tibet from the twelfth through fourteenth centuries; ruling over subjects practicing a wide variety of syncretic religions. All of the sculptures in this milieu belong to the religious framework laid between the traditions of the Sakya order and those of Newar Mahayanism. Scholarship on this stylistic milieu began with independent scholar Ian Alsop’s article, “Metal Sculpture of the Khasa Malla Kingdom” published in the periodical, Orientations in June 1994 (Volume 25, No. 6). Therein, Alsop describes the style as “a clear adaptation of Kathmandu Valley style” distinguished by its redesigned ornamentation, petite yet weighty physical features, and extravagant gilding. These, he says, are the defining elements of Khasa Malla Kingdom sculpture. Ian argues that the “Devanagari/proto-Nepali” inscriptions on the front of these sculptures’ bases rather than Newari ones, points directly to a Khasa Malla royal commissioner.

Nepalese anthropologist Gautama Vajracharya elaborated on the definition of this style in Nepalese Seasons: Rain and Ritual (Rubin Museum of Art, 2016): he notes the figure’s bodies modeled with compact yet graceful features and the high arch of the eyebrows, which nearly meet the hairline (more prevalent among female figures). One of the other marked characteristics, noted by the aforementioned scholars and many others since, is an incomplete lotus base with red pigment thereon. As a result, many sculptures such as the present that fit this description have been catalogued and sold in the art market over the last two decades as originating in the Khasa Malla kingdom.

Laura A. Weinstein 12-2021