Vishnu (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

11th century
Indian
copper alloy
Thanjavur (Tanjore) District, Tamil Nadu, India
Overall: 25 1/2 × 11 × 7 1/2 in. (64.77 × 27.94 × 19.05 cm)
98.37
To his devotees, the Hindu god Vishnu is everything. He is the creator, ruler, and maintainer of the entire universe, but most of all, he is the refuge and protector of all who need his help. The conch shell in his upper left hand refers to his great powers of creation - having brought forth the cosmos from the primordial waters - and the flaming discus opposite is a reminder of his equal capacity to destroy. Yet he holds his lower right hand in a gesture of comfort, though, reassuring his followers that he uses these enormous powers only for good. The rings at the sculpture's base were used to mount this image onto a large wooden temple cart for processions during religious festivals.
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
Vidya Dehejia et al, The Sensuous and the Sacred Chola Bronzes from South India (New York: AFA, in asso. with University of Washington Press, 2002) pp. 174, 179, cat. no. 41, color ills. pp. 179, 180.

Murray Littlejohn and Edward Tingley, "So Many Tears I Was Searching," Parabola Summer 2002, Vol. 27, No. 2, b&w ill. p. 7, credit p. 142.

Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 56, pp. 163-164)

“What’s Happening In…” USA Today, July 2, 1999, color ill. p.7-D.

Roy Proctor, “Images of Vishnu,” Richmond Times Dispatch, July 2, 1999, pp. C1-C2. color det. p. C-1.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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