Vishnu Seated in a Garden before a Fountain
9 3/16 x 6 in. (23.3 x 15.2 cm)
Medium and Support:
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold paint on paper
Gift of Miss Margaret M. Whalen
Location: Not currently on view
According to Indian Hinduism, three gods comprise the Trimurti, or sacred trinity: Brahma, the Creator; Shiva, the Destroyer; and Vishnu, the Preserver. In this illustration from an illuminated Hindu manuscript, the god Vishnu is shown in a contemplative pose, seated on a throne within a walled garden.
In religious art, most figures can be identified by their attributes, or distinctive physical characteristics or objects. The preserver god Vishnu, who has skin “the color of dark clouds,” is traditionally shown with four arms holding sacred and symbolic objects. His front arms signify his activity in the physical world; those in back, his role in the spiritual realm.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]