The 11th century brass bust of Shujuni Devi, Nirmand

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Devi Shujuni’s famed metal bust was first noticed and photographed in 1919 at the Bhunda of Nirmand. The Assistant Commissioner of Kulu, H. L. H. Shuttleworth, was able to notice this artefact due to some ‘fortunate’ circumstances. On this occasion, the bust was one of the treasures brought out of the bhandar (temple storeroom).

It was stolen from there in 1982 but was luckily recovered by the police, and was eventually photographed for only the second time.

Bust of the legendary Shujuni Devi
Source: Antiquities of Himachal (1985).

Based on the inscriptions engraved on it, a date of 12 July 1026 A.D. has been assigned to it. For its similar design and workmanship, it is related to the Gauri-Shankara brass (A.D. 1025) of the Lakshmi-Narayan temple in Chamba. Scholars also believe it was created in Chamba itself, but it’s unclear how this brass image came to be in Nirmand. The Somavarman copper-plate (1055 A.D.) does, however, allude to political ties between Chamba and Kullu in the tenth-century.

As photographed by Shuttleworth in 1919.

A translation of the main inscription on the bust comes out thus:

Tuseday, the tenth of the dark half of Asharh, Samvat 2. During the reign of Hemaprakash, whose prosperity is manifest, his queen donated this (auspicious) image of Shri Shujunidevi. Made by Sidhapa.

Scholars further opine that the bust may have served as the portrait of a deified queen ordered to be made by the queen of an unknown king Hemaprakasha.


The above Information is based on the 1985 book ‘Antiquities of Himachal’.

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