This unusual and tall cast brass image is of Upulvan, the guardian deity of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The cult of Upulvan started during Sri Lanka’s medieval period and later the deity became identified with the Hindu god Vishnu. According to local tradition, the Lord Buddha entrusted Upulvan with the guardianship of Sri Lanka and its Buddhist creed.
The deity has the standing posture of Vishnu, and elements of his attire and headdress also follow that of Vishnu as depicted in South India – however, there are plenty of central Sri Lankan (Kandyan) elements too: the manner of the wearing of the robes is in keeping with that of a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, the breast-plate pendant is large and of Sri Lankan form, and the six-sided base is engraved with Kandyan floral scrolls.
The image is in fine condition without damage or repairs. The image and platform have all been cast as one piece.
The final image shows a polychrome and terracotta image of Upulvan, photographed in the portico of a Sri Lankan temple.
Seneviratna, A., Gateway to Kandy: Ancient Monuments in the Central Hills of Sri Lanka, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 1998.