Because they date to a period when the Pancharatra sect was most influential, these two images are probably best identified as Chaturvyuha (or Four-Vyuha) Vishnu. The central face is that of Vishnu’s most supreme, most transcendent vyuha, or emanation, known as Vasudeva. The subsequent, less abstract vyuhas, in the form of a lion and a boar, appear at either side, with another vyuha implied at the back. The positions of the lion and boar heads differ in these two pieces, indicating that there was some disagreement about the way the viewer should read such an icon.
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Gift of Marilyn W. Grounds
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Four-Faced Vishnu, 4th-5th century. Red Sandstone, 10 1/4 in. (26 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Marilyn W. Grounds, 79.260.12. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 79.260.12_PS2.jpg)
overall, 79.260.12_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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