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Pilgrimage to Gosainkund

c. 1800
Artist/maker unknown, Nepalese

The holy lake of Gosainkund is an important pilgrimage destination in Nepal. This long, richly detailed painting shows pilgrims walking through the Kathmandu Valley toward this sacred pool at the painting’s right end. The reclining god depicted within the lake is worshiped by Hindus as Shiva and by Buddhists as the compassionate bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.

Pilgrims emerge from the cities of Kathmandu and Patan and make their way over hills, through valleys, and across rivers. They encounter numerous sacred sites along the way. Many of the buildings and landmarks can be identified because they closely resemble the places they represent. In addition to magnificent depictions of urban architectural spaces, the artist has paid careful attention to the details of everyday life. A cat sits on a roof, a tigress nurses her cubs, and merchants, yogis, monks, and pilgrims of many ethnicities are distinguished by dress and features.

Object Details

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