Prajnaparamita, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Lokeshvara
Artist/maker unknown, Nepalese
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The architectural format of this rare stone sculpture (multilobed arches separated by pillars) is a distinctive feature of the Malla period. The deities seated in the niches are eminent figures in the Buddhist pantheon: the goddess (left) embodies the important Buddhist text The Perfection of Wisdom, the title of which is also the literal translation of her name; the historical Buddha Shakyamuni (center) invokes the moment of his enlightenment by touching the earth to witness his triumph; and Lokeshvara (right) demonstrates his compassionate nature with a boon-granting gesture. The remnants of red powders on the deities' foreheads indicate they were once ritually worshiped.