a1 University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Golden Window above the Golden Door of Caukoṭ Darbār, a building on the western side of the (former) Royal Palace complex, is a major attraction in the city of Patan (Nepal). The gilt window panel features a representation of Avalokiteśvara in his form as Sṛṣṭikartā (“creator”) emanating Hindu divinities from his body. The sides, base and tympanum of the window likewise display Hindu divinities. The construction of the window has been ascribed to different kings of the late Malla period (1483–1768) and is said to illustrate their support for the Buddhist practices of their subjects, while providing a Hindu interpretative framework for such practices. In this paper I identify the divinities on the window and examine textual and visual sources that shed light on the date of the window's construction, including the inscriptions above and at the sides of the Golden Door. I show that there is no evidence for such an early dating of the window and that the Golden Window was probably constructed sometime in the nineteenth century in either the Śāh period (1769–1846) or, more likely, the Rāṇā period (1846–1951). I conclude with some thoughts on the possible significance of the peculiar configuration of divinities surrounding the Bodhisattva on the window.
1 This is a version of a paper, originally published in Orientations (Bühnemann 2010), expanded to take into account the iconography of the Golden Door of Patan's Royal Palace. The earlier paper, which includes high-quality colour photographs, addresses a broader readership and does not use footnotes or diacritical marks. I would like to thank Kashinath Tamot, Gerd Mevissen, Niels Gutschow, Horst Brinkhaus, Iain Sinclair, Michael Meister, Philip Pierce and Adalbert Gail for valuable suggestions on drafts of this paper. For their kindly providing photographs, I am indebted to Niels Gutschow, Manik Bajracharya and Rupert Steiner.