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Asian art

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Vaishravana, the god of wealth

15th century


Unknown Artist


This 'thangka' of the Dharmapala (protector) deity Vaishravana is one of the earliest in the gallery's collection. Vaishravana is venerated as a god of wealth, guardian deity of the North and a follower of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. He is shown seated on a white snow lion, holding a jewel-spitting mongoose and a victory banner or standard. As is typical of 'thangkas', the deity is the central focus of the painting and is shown front-on, though sometimes in a schematic style. The picture plane is flat with no attempt at perspective. Rather the deity and his entourage are depicted in accordance with a hierarchical arrangement. While this format and iconography conform to an accepted convention, it shows the complex compositional treatment favoured by the Newari artists of Nepal. This example also shows the influence of Chinese painting styles in its use of flat, loose colour, its decorative treatment and stylisation, and in the clothing of the central deity.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.62.


Place where the work was made



15th century

Media category


Materials used

thangka; gouache on cotton


45.9 x 38.4 cm sight; 48.4 x 40.0 cm sheet; 120.0 x 69.0 cm overall

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1997


Not on display

Accession number



Where the work was made

Referenced in 4 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 1998, 'Collections', pg. 15-19, Sydney, 1998, 18 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Arts of Asia, 'New Dimensions', pg. 54-63, Hong Kong, Nov 2003-Dec 2003, 62 (colour illus.). no.20

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 62-63 (colour illus.). The colour illus. on page 63 is a detail of this work.

Marylin M. Rhie and Robert A. F. Thurman, Wisdom and compassion: the sacred art of Tibet, London, 1991. 44 for comparable example