Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Indian (South Asian)

Object Creation Date
11th century - 12th century

Medium & Support

28 ⅜ in x 19 11/16 in x 10 7/16 in (28 ⅜ in x 50.01 cm x 26.51 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Mark and Iuliana Phillips

Label copy
This impressive image of Vishnu, one of the major Hindu male gods, was once part of a much larger carved stone sculpture. At the center of the composition is a frontal image of Vishnu in his enduring form as an idealized ruler: he wears an elaborate conical crown as well as earrings, a necklace, and armbands, as well as a floral garland that drapes over his left shoulder down below his waist, to then be looped over his belt. On the lower half of his body he wears a short, form-revealing dhoti (a cloth wrapped around the body). Vishnu normally appears with four arms, but here the two lower arms have broken off; in his upper left arm he supports a disc (chakra in Sanskrit), a symbol of universal power, while the left appears to hold a lotus plant, signifying purity. His other two arms probably once held a mace and a conch-like shell, his other two principle attributes.
Behind Vishnu's head is a double oval halo, the outer adorned with scrolling plant leaves; these scrolls turn up at their lower ends, where the halo would have rested on two vertical columns that once flanked the deity but are now lost.
This majestic composition of a Vishnu shrine is often found in north central India (parts of modern Uttar Pradesh) in the 9th and 10th centuries.
For similar works, see:
Therese McCullough, Indian and Southeast Asian Art Exhibition, November 2002, no. 7
Vishakha Desai and Darielle Mason, Gods, Guardians, and Lovers, Temple Sculptures from North India AD 700–1200 (New York, 1993), fig. 70
M. Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art, 5/30/2006

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