Stele with a standing figure of Vishnu


British Museum

British Museum

Vishnu is one of the most popular gods of the Hindu pantheon. His portayal here is standard: a royal figure standing tall, crowned and bejewelled, in keeping with his role as king and preserver of order within the universe. He carries a gada (mace) and chakra (disc) in his hands. The other two hands, which would have held a lotus and conch, are broken. On his forehead he wears a vertical mark or tilak, commonly worn by followers of Vishnu. In keeping with his iconography as the divine king, he is heavily bejewelled, wears a sacred thread that runs over his left shoulder and a long garland that comes down to his knees.He stands flanked by two attendants, who may be his consorts Bhu and Shri, on a double lotus. The stele has a triangular top unlike earlier examples which were usually in the shape of a gently lobed arch. On either side of his crown are celestial garland bearers and musicians, the Vidyadharas and Kinnaras. A kirtimukha, or auspicious face of glory is carved on the top centre of the arch.The sculpture is typical of workmanship of the Pala dynasty of twelfth-century Bengal. The heart-shaped face with stylized arched eyebrows, long eyes that are slightly upturned at the ends, the broad nose, and the pursed smile are all characteristic.

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  • Title: Stele with a standing figure of Vishnu
  • Date Created: 1000/1099
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 164.00cm (Object); Width: 78.00cm (Object); Depth: 27.00cm (Object); Weight: 362.50kg; Height: 188.00cm (On module); Width: 82.00cm (On module); Depth: 56.00cm (On module)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: attendant
  • Registration number: 1872,0701.32
  • Place: Found/Acquired India
  • Material: chlorite
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by Bridge, John. Donated by Bridge, Fanny. Donated by Baker, Edgar. Previous owner/ex-collection Bridge, John. Previous owner/ex-collection Stuart, Charles
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