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Four-Faced Vishnu

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, Arts of South Asia, 2nd floor
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.
MEDIUM Red Sandstone
  • Possible Place Made: Mathura region, India
  • DATES 4th–5th century
    PERIOD Gupta Period
    DIMENSIONS 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 79.260.12
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Marilyn W. Grounds
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1971, provenance not yet documented; before 1971, acquired by Paul F. Walter of New York, NY; between 1971 and 1979, acquired from Paul F. Walter by Marilyn W. Grounds of Princeton, New Jersey; 1979, gift of Marilyn W. Grounds to the Brooklyn Museum
    Provenance FAQ
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, Arts of South Asia, 2nd floor
    CAPTION 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)
    IMAGE overall, 79.260.12_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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