Vishnu Riding on Garuda


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 252

This rare early example of Nepalese repoussé depicts the god Vishnu in flight astride his half-bird, half-human mount, Garuda. He displays a flaming discus, a club, and a conch. Atop his wings are diminutive figures of his wives. Vishnu was the premier deity of the North Indian Gupta clan, and Garuda their dynastic symbol—a royal association that continued with the Licchavi kingdom in Nepal. The inscription here refers to Vishnu Garudadhvaja (One Whose Banner is Garuda), the Gupta symbol. This relief, the oldest known example outside Nepal, served as a protective sheath for a stone icon of the same subject.

Vishnu Riding on Garuda, Gilt copper repoussé, Nepal

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