Vishnu as Para Vasudeva-Narayana
last quarter of the 8th century
India (Jammu & Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)
H. 41 1/8 in. (104.5 cm)
Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1991
This complex form of Vishnu, known also as Vaikuntha Chaturmurti, is four-faced, with the heads of a lion (right) and a boar (left) flanking a human head. Carved in low relief on the back of the halo is a demonic, grimacing face with fangs and a vertical third eye on the forehead. The small attendant on Vishnu's left is Chakrapurusha, the personification of the war discus, originally balanced on his right by Gadadevi, the female personification of Vishnu's battle mace. The upper half of Prithvi, the earth goddess, stands between Vishnu's legs. This form of Vishnu portrays the god as the progenitor of the universe. From the eighth through the tenth century, this four-faced form of Vishnu was the most important cult icon in Kashmir.
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