Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Standing Vishnu, 10th century
    Nepal
    Gilt copper alloy; 8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm)
    Gift of The Kronos Collections, 1986 (1986.501.8)

    Many of the sculptures in the Museum's collection have been separated from their original surroundings and bases, and an examination of this sculpture, which has an intact nimbus and base, is therefore particularly instructive as to the original appearance of many of these works. The four-armed Hindu deity Vishnu stands in a frontal attitude on a double-lotus base, from which emerges a nimbus with flames that surrounds the statue. Nepalese metal images of the Hindu god Vishnu usually show him standing in a rigid and symmetrical posture with four arms. In this sculpture, his raised left hand holds a mace and his raised right hand a war discus. His lower left hand holds a conch and his lower right, a round object symbolizing the fruit of knowledge. This particular configuration of attributes was popular among Nepalese devotees of Vishnu and identifies the image as an emanation known as "the bearer of prosperity" (shridara).

    In his role as preserver and protector of the universe, Vishnu is periodically called upon to save the universe from some great calamity. In this context, he is a martial deity and, accordingly, holds a mace and a discus, which are weapons, as well as a conch used to call troops to arms. The richly decorated aureole surrounding the figure is a rare example, as few have survived on early Vishnu images.

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    On view: Gallery 252
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  • Standing Vishnu, 10th century
    Nepal
    Gilt copper alloy; 8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm)
    Gift of The Kronos Collections, 1986 (1986.501.8)

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