Artist/maker unknown, Nepalese

Made in Nepal, Asia

c. Late 15th - 16th century

Mercury-gilded copper alloy with semiprecious stones, rock crystal, and glass

14 3/8 × 10 1/2 × 6 3/8 inches (36.5 × 26.7 × 16.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. J. Norman Henry, 1927

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Rather than being cast, this virtuoso gilded figure is composed of multiple repoussé (hammered) pieces. The four objects in his hands—a flaming discus, a scepter-like mace, a conch shell, and a lotus flower—indicate that this is the Hindu god Vishnu, who is so revered in Nepal that many kings have declared themselves to be his incarnation, a tradition that continues even today. Nepalese Hindus also credit Vishnu with using his discus to alter the landscape, piercing and thereby draining a lake to create the Kathmandu Valley, the center of the region’s political and artistic activity.