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Miniature shrine with the Hindu deity Vishnu sleeping on the cosmic ocean
Place of Origin: India, vicinity of Shrirangam, Tamil Nadu state
Date: 1500-1700
Materials: Ivory with traces of pigments
Dimensions: H. 8 1/2 in x W. 5 in x D. 1 1/2 in, H. 21.6 cm x W. 12.7 cm x D. 3.8 cm
Credit Line: Acquisition made possible by Michel D. Weill bequest and C. Barry Randell bequest
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Sculpture
Object Number: B82M4
On Display: No

Description

Label: The universe has been destroyed. In the interval before it is recreated, nothing is left but limitless ocean. On this ocean floats Vishnu, lying on a serpent, asleep. The universe now persists, like a dream, within the sleeping god. When the time is right, he will put forth from his navel the god Brahma, who will reconstruct the universe, and the cycle will begin again.

This form of Vishnu, asleep on the cosmic ocean, is the central image of one of the most important Hindu temples in southern India, the Shri Ranganatha Temple at Shrirangam. This miniature shrine is an abbreviated representation of that vast temple. Its general form recalls the temple's towers, and the dome shape in its upper part recalls the superstructure of the temple's central building. In front of the dome-shaped element in both the miniature and the real building is an arched panel with a standing half-figure of Vishnu in a special form as the ultimate supreme deity. Below the reclining Vishnu is another standing Vishnu flanked by his consorts, a pair of door guardians, and other figures.
Label: The universe has been destroyed. In the interval before it is recreated, nothing is left but limitless ocean. On this ocean floats Vishnu, lying on a serpent, asleep. The universe now persists, like a dream, within the sleeping god. When the time is right, he will put forth from his navel the god Brahma, who will reconstruct the universe, and the cycle will begin again.

This form of Vishnu, asleep on the cosmic ocean, is the central image of one of the most important Hindu temples in southern India, the Shri Ranganatha Temple at Shrirangam. This miniature shrine is an abbreviated representation of that vast temple. Its general form recalls the temple's towers, and the dome shape in its upper part recalls the superstructure of the temple's central building. In front of the dome-shaped element in both the miniature and the real building is an arched panel with a standing half-figure of Vishnu in a special form as the ultimate supreme deity. Below the reclining Vishnu is another standing Vishnu flanked by his consorts, a pair of door guardians, and other figures.