In this fragmentary image the god Vishnu, Preserver and Protector of the Universe, is represented as a youthful and physically powerful princely figure with long curling hair.

He wears a high, ornate crown formed with rosettes linked by looped swags, as well as heavy earrings, a necklace, a thick garland swathed round the upper arms, and a lower garment tied at the waist. His nimbus and two additional arms proclaim his divine nature. The four hands and the distinguishing attributes which they held are now missing. This iconography of Vishnu had developed during the Kushan period in the early centuries AD. As with other Hindu and Buddhist icons, it came to full expressive maturity in the great age of the Guptas, which saw an unrivalled flowering of the arts in India.


Private collection, USA.

Ashmolean Museum

Beaumont Street, OXFORD, Oxfordshire, OX1 2PH
01865 278000

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 5pm Until 8pm on the last Friday of every month

Exhibitions at Ashmolean Museum

Back to top