Saraswati lamp (Nepal)


This is Saraswati, identified by her attributes. Saraswati is holding Akshamala, Pustaka (manuscript) and Veena/Lute in her hands. Starting from her upper right hand Saraswati Lampclockwise. Saraswati’s lower right hand is in Cinmudra, fingers/hand position indicating knowledge.  Throughout India, Saraswati is worshipped as Goddess of Knowledge.

Though Saraswati dates back to Vedic age, individual antique metal sculptures of her are rare. In Pala sculptures, Saraswati is shown as one of the consorts of Vishnu. This site has an example of such Pala Vishnu.

In this example, Saraswati is sitting on top of fluted oil and wick lamp. As the lamp chase away darkness, Saraswati as Goddess of knowledge chases away ignorance. Beautiful symbolism.

This bronze is from Nepal. Tiara and peaked crown, her resting her feet on a lotus, shape of the lute, the base, features on the base are among the iconographic features that point in that direction.

The base has interesting features as well. It starts with inverted lotus at the bottom. At the level immediately above, there are two elephants and two deer (not shown)  flank Ganesh(?). The level immediately above the protruding hemispheres there are lions, dancers and some religious symbol in the middle.

The level above has, interestingly, Buddhist four of the eight sacred symbols, endless knot, lotus flower, umbrella and  Dharma Chakra. It is not unusual for Buddhism and Hinduism to comingle, especially in Nepal. The base is topped by a Lotus on which Saraswati sits.

The lamp is guarded by two lions. This bronze probably had a Prabhavali, as indicated by two holes on the top platform.

Accumulated dirt and general wear, especially at the high points on the stem suggest some age. But this may not date prior to the nineteenth century.

The bronze is about 41 cm in height.


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