Enthroned Vishnu

Period: Pandyan period (early 4th–13th century)

Date: second half of the 8th–early 9th century

Culture: India

Medium: Granulite

Dimensions: H. 9 ft. 9 in. (296.8 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, The Charles Engelhard Foundation Gift, in memory of Charles Engelhard, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.296


This monumental sculpture — the largest in the Museum’s South Asian collection — is a rare example of the art of the Pandya dynasty, which, along with the Pallava dynasty, initiated the first great phase of temple building in South India. Vishnu sits on a lion throne in the relaxed, regal posture of lalitasana. His role in Hinduism is to restore order to the human world and to combat evils that threaten the stability of the universe. He originally held a conch (used as a battle trumpet) in his upper left hand and a war discus in his upper right, and his lower right hand was raised in abhaya-mudra.