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Standing Vishnu

8th century

Tamil Nadu, India

Copper alloy

H. 13 1/4 x W. 5 1/2 x D. 4 3/4 in. (33.7 x 13.97 x 12.06 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.17


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Vishnu is worshipped by Hindus as the preserver of the universe. He descends to earth in different guises and restores the balance and order of the universe. Three of the objects he holds, the discus, club and conch shell, represent those used in his endeavors. For example, with the blowing of the conch shell, Vishnu is said to strike terror into the hearts of his enemies. A sacred thread is draped around his left shoulder and right arm. This thread is worn by members of the high-ranking Brahmin caste that was traditionally responsible for the performance of rituals. It is a standard attribute of all Hindu gods.