Lot 50
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Buff Sandstone
35.75 in (90.8 cm) high


The J C Tandan Collection
Thence by descent

"Vishnu is... part of a trinity consisting of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Shiva the Destroyer. As the Preserver, Vishnu is responsible for maintaining balance, combating the forces of chaos, and ensuring that heaven and earth continue to progress on their preordained course." (Joan Cummins, Vishnu, pp. 12-13) In the beautifully composed present lot, the sandstone stele is dominated by a four-armed (Chaturbhuja) Vishnu, standing majestically in the samapadasana stance.

Each of Vishnu's four arms hold his iconographic attributes: the Panchajanya shankha (conch shell), the Sudarshana chakra (discus), the Kaumodaki gada (mace) and padma (lotus), all of which display Vishnu's creative, destructive, and protective abilities. Of these, the gada and the chakra are considered powerful, celestial weapons of war. The Kaumodaki gada, capable of slaying any demon, produced a thunder-like roar when hurled, and was given to Vishnu by Varuna, the god of water. In one of his upper hands, Vishnu holds the Sudarshana chakra, which was given to him by Shiva for his devotion. According to the Mahabharata, Krishna - one of the avatars of Vishnu - received it from Agni, the god of fire. The most formidable of all discoid weapons in Hindu scripture, it can slay any enemy from far distances and return back to Vishnu's hands. "Often described as fiery and effulgent and compared to the sun, it recalls Vishnu's Vedic significance as a solar deity." (Joan Cummins, p. 71)

The layered crown on Vishnu's head, denotes his kingship. He wears a short dhoti that knots at his knees, with jewels around his waist. Around his neck is the celestial Vaijayanti mala and the kaustubh adorns his chest. His gazes down, benign, as he blesses his devotees. These are lakshanas (attributes) of divinity.

The figure of Vishnu is illuminated by a lotus-bloom nimbus, a symbol of creation and fertility, and accompanied by small figures of his Dashavataras, or ten avatars. "According to the Vishnu Purana, of the 6th-8th century, the standard list of Vishnu avatars is such: Matsya the fish, Kurma the tortoise, Varaha the boar, Narasimha the man-lion, Vamana the dwarf, Parashurama the Brahmin, Rama the prince, Krishna the cowherd-prince, the Buddha, and Kalki the avatar of the future. ... For the first five avatars, the order of descent illustrates an early Hindu hierarchy of biological and intellectual sophistication, with the fish at the lowest level, succeeded by a reptile, a mammal, a half-human, and finally a human." (Joan Cummins, p. 115)

At the top of the stele are depicted eight of the ten avatars, while below them are Brahma and Vishnu. Below these gods, Narasimha and Varaha complete the ten avatars. To the true right of the relief, is a figure made of four bodiless heads, depicting the digpalas (protectors of the four directions), while the other side shows a carving of two figures churning butter in a pot. Under the two lowered hands of Vishnu, stand Jay and Vijay, the guardians of the doors of the Vaikuntham (the holy abode of Vishnu), while female devotees supplicate themselves at their feet in the namaskara mudra.

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  Lot 50 of 70  

14 DECEMBER 2015

Rs 85,00,000 - 1,15,00,000

Winning Bid
Rs 1,02,00,000
(Inclusive of Buyer's Premium)


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