Illuminated manuscript page of Vishnu reclining on serpant Ananta - ROM2009_10848_29


Illuminated manuscript page of Vishnu reclining on serpant Ananta

Medium:Paper; watercolour; gold
Geography: Punjab Hills, India, South Asia
Date: early 19th century
Object number: 2009.10.29
Credit Line: Charles Green Collection. This acquisition was made possible with the generous support of the Louise Hawley Stone Charitable Trust Fund. Certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act. Attestė par la Commission canadienne d’examen des exportations de biens culturels en vertu de la Loi sur l’exportation et l’importation de biens culturels.
Not on view

In the Trimurti, the Hindu concept of three forms of God, Vishnu is the preserver of the universe. Vaishnavites, devotees of Vishnu, see only Vishnu as the supreme God and thus is at once the preserver, the destroyer and the creator. According to the Vishnu Purana, an ancient text that tells the story of Vishnu, at the close of an age, Vishnu takes the form of Rudra and swallows up the universe. Having devoured all things and converted the universe into one vast ocean, Vishnu now reposes on his mighty serpent Ananta while his wife Laxmi the goddess of wealth, love, prosperity and beauty, massages his feet. Ananta, the thousand headed gigantic serpant is known as the endless and symbolizes eternity in the primordial ocean. Vishnu then awakes, in the form of Brahma and begins to create the universe anew.

This is a page from an illuminated manuscript. Its decorative border and size is consistant with religious books produced by artist in the Punjab Hills, a region that today crosses the states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. The scene depicted is a popular one and also appears on the sides of temples as early at the 5th century CE (see Gupta-period temple at Deogarh). Brahma is shown to have emerged from a lotus that grows out of Vishnu's belly. The multi-headed Anant provides protection as Vishnu births the creator of the universe.

South Asia
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