- Museum number
Opaque watercolour painting of Viṣṇu seated on the coils of the serpent Shesha in a palatial hall on a hill, possibly Vaikuntha, with Brahma and Vayu. Viṣṇu carries in his upper right hand the chakra (discus) and in his upper left the shankha (conch), while his lower right and lower left hands are in abhaya and varada mudra. The four-headed Brahma’s upper right hand carries the mala (string of beads) and in his upper left is the kamandalu (water vessel); his lower right hand rests on his thigh and his lower left arm is raised. Vayu has a mala (string of beads) in his upper right hand, a flag in his upper left hand, his lower right hand is in jnana mudra and he holds an unidentified object under his arm.
- Production date
- 1830 (circa)
Height: 22.60 centimetres
Width: 17.60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Dallapiccola 2010:
This and the next two paintings (1962,1231,0,13.57 & 58) appear to be parts of a narrative. The gods, harassed by the asuras, seek Visnu’s advice. Visnu replies that they should visit Siva, whose son (yet to be conceived) will be able to defeat the asuras. The arrival of the gods disturbs Siva’s dalliance.
This painting is part of an album of ninety-one paintings (1962,1231,0.13.1–91) illustrating gods, goddesses, saints and scenes from Hindu mythology. One of the most interesting features of the album are the eight major temple sites included: Srirangam, Tiruvallur, Rameswaram, Tirunelveli, Palani, Madurai, Thiruvanaikoil (Tiruvanaikka or Jambukeshvara) and Tiruchchirappalli. Furthermore, included in this series are some of the most important murtis enshrined in temples such as Venkatachalapati of Tirumala, Vitthala of Pandharpur and Thyagarajasvami of Tiruvarur. The geographical area covered by the paintings encompasses the totality of the former Madras Presidency and extends into the former Bombay Presidency, giving an insight into the most revered pilgrimage sites in early nineteenth-century southern India.
The drawings were first done in pencil, traces of which are still visible. In the course of his work the artist has sometimes changed his mind, as for instance in the positioning of the arms and feet of the figures. Slight shading has been consistently applied to the faces, arms and legs of the figures to suggest three-dimensionality. The vibrant colours and the delicacy of the drawings make the figures stand out from the pages.
The pages are numbered in reverse order from the back, on paper water marked ‘1820’. Occasionally, a brief note is pencilled in English, probably by a British Museum curator, at the back of some of the temple depictions. An almost identical work, albeit containing a hundred drawings, each with bilingual inscriptions in Telugu and English, is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (IM 355-1923 to 454-1923). The sequence of the images is similar to that in this album.
- On display (G33/dc66b/s3)
- Exhibition history
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Transferred from the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books (OMPB) in 1962.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 1167 (Egerton number)