Late 10th-early 11th century
India, Tamil Nadu
H. 34 1/2 x W. 13 3/4 x D. 10 1/4 in. (87.6 x 35 x 26 cm)
Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.22
This lyrical image depicts Krishna overcoming Kaliya, a snake king who had been poisoning the waters of the sacred Yamuna River and terrifying the local population. While he subdues Kaliya by dancing on the snake king's hood of protective snakes, Krishna performs the gesture of reassurance to comfort his devotees. Once defeated, Kaliya himself became a devotee of Krishna, a transformation expressed by the snake king's gesture of worship and expression of adoration towards his vanquisher. Krishna is one of the Hindu god Vishnu's most popular incarnations and his life and romantic exploits are a favorite theme in Indian art and literature.