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Accueil > Publications > Dernières publications

Article by Gérard Toffin (CEH), published in December 2022 in Arts asiatiques Vol. 77, 2022, pp. 69–82

"Les images du dieu Indra dans la vallée de Katmandou, Népal.
La néwarisation d’une divinité indienne"



The iconographic destiny of the god Indra in Nepal is remarkable in every respect. The Kathmandu Valley, home of Newar culture, adopted this Indian god but gave him his own characteristics in new representations, even as images of Indra were, in the twelfth century, gradually disappearing from the subcontinent, with a few exceptions. The article focuses on the peculiarities of this Nepalese statuary (wood, metal, stone) and demonstrates that the iconographic models that have persisted for centuries, from the eleventh century to the present day, are closely linked with Indrajātrā, a royal festival held every year at the end of August or in September. To shed light on Indra’s artistic forms, the author focuses on the local cultural context, especially the legend that forms the framework of the festival. Buddhism has played a considerable role in this development. It has left its mark, especially on the figure of Vasundharā, who is identified with Indra’s mother. The article deals with the noblest statues, without overlooking the more popular images that portray Indra as a phallic god of fertility and associate him with death. It concludes by stressing the importance of conducting, whenever possible, art history and ethnographic studies simultaneously.

Keywords : Indra ; Vasundharā ; Nepal ; Indrajātrā ; acculturation ; sculptures ; Hinduism ; Buddhism

Arts asiatiques, Vol. 77, 2022