Vasudeva

9th century
India, Kashmir
Brass with silver inlay
Height: 29 cm - 11 ⅜ in

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This powerful yet graceful figure is awonderful example of the Kashmiri preference to portray Vishnu with hisattributes in personified form. Here, the god is depicted by the artist with a single head indicatingthat he is in his most supreme aspect or para,otherwise known as Vasudeva.[1] Standing in a subtle tribhanga, Vasudeva shifts his weight gentlyto the right. Although his body isclothed in a diaphanous dhoti andadorned by a sumptuous array of foliate jewelry, including an ankle-lengthgarland of wild flowers (vanamala),the deity's chest remains bare with the exception of a diamond-shaped mark or srivatsa. Among other indicators, it is this mark, a symbol of theubiquity of his consort, which distinguishes the god as a form of Vishnu. In two of his hands, Vasudeva holds aconch shell and lotus stem, but instead of wielding his usual mace and wheel,the palms of his remaining hands are positioned on the heads of a pair offlanking attendant figures. Gadanari, the personification of the mace, stands on the right andChakrapurusha, the personification of the wheel, on the left. Between the deity's feet, a diminutiveearth goddess gazes up in adoration.

A bronze of Vishnu Chaturanana in thecollection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art closely relates to thepresent example.[2] Although the Los Angeles bronze bearsmore elaborate inlay and its figures' dhotisare more intricately patterned, Dr. Pal asserts that stylistically similarfacial features, elegant lines, and proportions indicate that both it and thepresent Vasudeva may have been cast in the same workshop in Kashmir.

Provenance:

Christian Humann (Pan-Asian Collection)

Published:

Chow, F., Arts from the Rooftops of Asia, exhibition catalogue, TheMetropolitan Museum of Art, (New York, 1971), no. 6.

Pal, P., Bronzes of Kashmir, (New York, 1975), no. 10.

Pal, P., "Dhanada-Kubera of The Vishnudharmottara Purana and Some Imagesfrom North-West India," Lalit Kala,Number 18, (Bombay, 1977), pp. 13-26, fig. 17.

Pal, P., The Sensuous Immortals: A Selection of Sculptures from the Pan-AsianCollection, exhibition catalogue, (Los Angeles, 1977), no. 25.

Notes:

[1] A related bronze that depicts a very similar Vishnu Chaturanana inwhich the deity is depicted with four heads is found in the collection of theLos Angeles County Museum of Art. See Pal (1975), no. 9.

[2] Ibid.