Plate 37: Sheshashayi Vishnu

Image title: Plate 37: Sheshashayi Vishnu

Description of the photo

[Full title: Sheshashayi Vishnu, and the demons Madhu and Kaitabha, Kerala School, Manuscript illustration, 16th century; Courtesy: Nilakantan Nambudripad]

In the temple at Trichakrapuram [Tricakrapura], another painting of the later half of the eighteenth century that illustrates Kṛṣṇa fondled by Nanda and Yasodā, and taught to walk slowly by cautiously placing his steps is indeed a masterpiece. In Kerala as in Andhra, Orissa and Karnataka, there are beautiful illustrated manuscripts in palm leaf. One of them of the sixteenth century from the collection of Nilakanthan Nambudiripad of Kanpur Mana, Chunangad showing Śeṣaśāyī Viṣṇu with the demons Madhu and Kaiṭabha swirling their clubs and approaching with rolling flashing eyes, reclining Vishnu calm and undaunted, with Śrī Devī and Bhūdevī, one at his feet and the other towards his head, is indeed a magnificent incised drawing that is to be counted among the masterpieces of this age.

Gallery information:

This plate is contained in the book “Vijayanagara Paintings”, a valuable aid to the understanding of Indian iconography (also known as śilpaśāstra). The Vijayanagara empire was established in 1335 by Harihara, Harihara, Kaṃpa and Bukka (sons of Saṅgama) and grew to be a dominant power in the South. Painting has been considered in the Citrasūtra of the Viṣṇudharmottara, the early standard text on painting, as the premier art.

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