Link to Carlos Museum home page Link to Emory University home page Link to Carlos Museum calendarLink to Carlos Museum bookshop Link to Carlos Museum search  
Link to Carlos Museum information Link to Carlos Museum collections and exhibitions page Link to Carlos Museum's Odyssey Online

Cosmic Form of Eighteen Armed Vishnu Permanent Collection:
Asian Art:
Cosmic Form of Eighteen Armed Vishnu

India. 11th century AD. Sandstone. 2001.0.4. Ester R. Portnow Collection of Asian Art, a Gift of the Nathan Rubin-Ida Ladd Family Foundation.

This highly unusual form of Vishnu in cosmic manifestation shows his supremacy through delicate architectural relief. Like the Durga sculpture, he stands in the three-fold (tribhanga) pose of gracefulness, with two worshippers in the honorific (namaskara) pose at his feet. Dressed in adhoti and surrounded by numerous attendants, he is fully jeweled with arm bands, ankle cuffs, meditation cords, and beaded disk earrings. The halo behind him is held up by two of his avatars, or manifestations-the boar-headed Varaha on the left and the lion-head Narasimha on the right. Vishnu's eighteen arms hold numerous weapons, including his mace, conch shell, and discus. He also holds weapons of other gods, such as the trident of Shiva, the lotus of Brahma, and the skull-headed post which symbolizes ascetic power.

Seeing all of these weapons in such fine relief, the worshipper would have been struck by Vishnu in his supremacy, embodying the powers of the universe and capable of infinite manifestations in order to save the world.


Collections & Exhibitions: | Ancient Egyptian and Nubian Art | Ancient Near Eastern Art | Art of the Ancient Americas | Classical Art | Sub-Saharan African Art | Works of Art on Paper

© Emory University
For more information please see our frequently asked questions.
Last Update: