Saraswatti (tib. Yangehenma) is the goddess of
music, art, and learning. Adapted from the Hindu pantheon, Saraswatti is an
extremely popular goddess among those whose interests lie in the arts. She is found
all over in both Tibet and Nepal, and as tradition has it in Nepal, her shrines are
visited by all the schoolchildren in the hope that she will help them with their exams and
other studies. She is distinguished by the lute or vina that she holds playing
divine music. Her other symbol that she is often recognized by is the swan on which
she rides. A very beautiful goddess, Saraswatti embodies the finer cultural aspects
of Buddhist life.
Here Saraswatti is painted in Newari style that is
depicting her in a four armed manifestation. Her two principle hands are playing her
vina while her other two hands hold sacred Buddhist relics. Her mount and symbol the
swan is seated to her left awaiting her mistress. The unique border of this piece is
decorated with dragons and garudas, the mythical birds that are the mount of the Hindu god
Vishnu, with their arch enemies the nagas, or snake gods, in their grasp.