G615.7 Stele depicting Vishnu Padmanabha in his cosmic sleep


India

G615.7 Stele depicting Vishnu Padmanabha in his cosmic sleep

Northeast India

Pala Period, circa 11th century

Dimensions: 31 x 61 x 9 cm

‘At the end of each great time-cycle, when the old, blind universe has been destroyed, it returns to the formless, oceanic state. In the mythology of Vishnu, it is he who floats upon the waters of the ocean in a yogic trance-like sleep before the new creation. In images representing this pre-creation scene, the pause between one universe and the next, Vishnu appears lying upon the serpent Ananta, ‘Endless’, which symbolizes the waters, its multiple cobra-hoods curving up like a wave to shelter his head’.

[Page 201, Hayward Gallery, In The Image Of Man: The Indian Perception of the Universe through 2000 Years of Painting and Sculpture, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1982.]

PROVENANCE: Private English collection. Acquired in the 1970s.