This incense holder is of bronze or brass and shows a figure of Garuda, the celestial mode of transport (vahana) of Vishnu, with prominent, flared wings, kneeling on his left knee and with hands clasped in anjali mudra. Garuda is on a raised, tiered, round platform. A stem rises from his head, into which incense sticks might have been inserted.
This form of Garuda is typical of Himachal Pradesh, in India’s north. Related examples are illustrated in Harle & Topsfield (1987, p. 63), Postel et al (1984, figs 275-280). Pal (2003, p. 59) illustrates an example in the Norton Simon Museum of similar form and size, which is inscribed with a date that is equivalent to 1521. This suggests that our example might be even earlier than the 17th-18th century dating that we have ascribed to it.
Overall, this is a fine and pleasing sculpture in excellent condition and with ample ritual puja wear.
Harle, J.C. & A. Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Ashmolean Museum, 1987.
Pal, P., Art from the Himalayas & China: Asian Art at the Norton Simon Museum, Yale University Press, 2003.
Postel, M., A. Neven & K. Mankodi, Antiquities of Himachal, Project for Indian Cultural Studies, Volume 1, Bombay, 1985.