9. Stele of Vishnu
Height: 61 cm
This richly decorated stele depicts Vishnu, the second god of the Hindu trimurti, surrounded by servants and worshipers. The god is standing in the samapada position. He once had four arms, but only three remain. In his raised right hand, Vishnu holds a mace, remarkably carved and richly decorated. With his lowered right hand, he is making the gesture of giving, or varadamudra. Finally, his lowered left hand holds a conch shell, the symbol of creation and the ritual attribute of the god.
This representation follows the Indian code of beauty, with a strong but supple chest, wide shoulders and a narrow waist. His body is covered with heavy jewelry carved with delicacy, including the Brahma knot. His head is crowned with a royal hairdo, or kirita, also richly decorated and standing out against a lotus-shaped aura.
At the right of Vishnu, at the top of the stele, are Brahma and Sarasvati seated. Brahma is depicted with a round stomach below the primordial three heads of the god.
The rounded shape, the supple positions and angular hips, along with the refined, intricate sense of detail, are all characteristic of the period. The mastery of the craftsmanship makes this stele an exceptional piece that underlines the power of this god.
Provenance: Gordon Rollins collection, United States.