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Carved temple strut (tunala) depicting a celestial female

13th century


Unknown Artist


'This large wooden temple strut is carved with a distinctively stylised and elongated figure of a tree deity or 'shalabhanjika', also popular in Hindu and Buddhist India. This celestial woman stands with one leg crossed over the other, in a relaxed 'tribhanga' or triple-bend pose. Her proper right hand extends above to grasp hold of a tree branch. Her left hand is in 'vitarka mudra', with the index finger and thumb touching. She stands on the head of a squatting dwarf or 'gana', depicted in a stylised rocky landscape setting.

The long, slim, sinuous body of this tree goddess is adorned with armlets and bracelets, necklaces and a tasselled hip-belt, worn as a symbol of fertility, and she is accompanied by a parrot, a symbol of love. Above her head is the lush, vigorous foliage of a flourishing tree. The 'gana' figure beneath is rendered in angular lines, contrasting with the swaying, curvaceous figure of the woman. With bearded face and strong body, he is shown squatting with one hand extended to the floor and the other resting on his knee.

Asian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2000


Place where the work was made

Kathmandu Valley Nepal


13th century

Media category


Materials used



130.5 x 18.8 x 19.5 cm object with stand :

a - wooden object; 128 x 16.5 x 8.4 cm

b - metal stand; 13.1 x 1.9 x 2 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Bequest of Alex Biancardi 2000


Not on display

Accession number


Referenced in 3 publications


Pratapaditya Pal, Orientations, 'Sensuous Spirituality: Hindu and Buddhist Art from the Indic Cultural Realm', pg. 80-87, Hong Kong, Sep 2000, 87 (illus.). fig.12

Mary Shepherd Slusser, Artibus Asiae, 'Indreshvara Mahadeva, a Thirteenth-Century Nepalese Shrine', pg.185-225, United States of America, 1979, 212 ( illus.). fig.41

Arts of Asia [vol 4, no 5], 'The Wooden Sculptures of Nepal', pg. 51-57, Hong Kong, 1974.