Tamil Nadu, India
H. 9 ft. 9 in. (298.2 cm)
Purchase, The Charles Engelhard Foundation Gift, in memory of Charles Engelhard, 1984 (1984.296)
Dating to the second half of the eighth century, this colossal seated Vishnu is a rare example of the art of the Pandya dynasty, which ruled from around Madurai in southernmost India. In Hinduism, Vishnu's function is the preservation of the world. The four-armed god sits on a lion throne in the relaxed posture of lalitasana, his right leg resting on top of the throne and his pendant left leg on a small double lotus attached to the projecting step. In his raised left hand the deity originally held a conch; the raised rear right hand would have held the chakra (war discus). The front lowered left hand rests on the left thigh, and the front right hand would have been raised in the fear-allaying gesture (abhayamudra). Part of an ovoid nimbus with stylized flame emanating from its outer perimeters frames the deity's head and high crown.