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Indian Art

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Vishnu Seated in a Garden before a Fountain

9 3/16 x 6 in. (23.3 x 15.2 cm)

Unknown, Indian

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold paint on paper
Credit Line: Gift of Miss Margaret M. Whalen
Accession Number: 1972.31b
Link to this object
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]

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It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue Entry for this artwork in the It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue. The exhibition ran from March 17-June 9, 2013

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