Copper Vishnu in cosmic sleep

Vijayanagara period, 15th century, South India

Height: 25 cm, Width: 21 cm; Height: 9.84 inches, Width: 8.27 inches

This finely cast bronze represents a cosmic theme in Hindu mythology. The principle deity Vishnu is supine on a bed formed by the coils of the serpent Shesha who rests in cosmic water, the serpent’s multi headed hood sweeping up and over Vishnus head forming a canopy. The four armed Vishnu holds two attributes in two of the hands, one is the conch shell, and the other is the wheel, of the two other arms one hand is held behind the head, the other is stretched languorously along and above the outstretched body. The deity’s left leg crosses the right, with the latter’s foot being massaged by one of two spouses seated side by side beside the figure who, furthermore, has the stem of a lotus surmounted by the three headed Brahma emanating from his navel. The group is placed on a tired base at the centre of which is a figure of Vishnu’s vehicle – Garuda.

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