Indian and Himalayan Art
VishnuMade in Nepal, Asia
Malla Dynasty (1200-1769), c. Late 15th to 16th century
Artist/maker unknown, Nepalese
Mercury-gilded copper alloy with semiprecious stones, rock crystal, and glass
Currently not on view
1927-18-17aGift of Mrs. J. Norman Henry, 1927
LabelRather than being cast, this virtuoso gilded figure is composed of multiple repoussé (hammered) pieces. The four objects in his hands—a flaming discus, a scepter-like mace, a conch shell, and a lotus flower—indicate that this is the Hindu god Vishnu, who is so revered in Nepal that many kings have declared themselves to be his incarnation, a tradition that continues even today. Nepalese Hindus also credit Vishnu with using his discus to alter the landscape, piercing and thereby draining a lake to create the Kathmandu Valley, the center of the region’s political and artistic activity.