India, Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, Gupta Period / Head of Vishnu from Besnagar / 4th CenturyIndia, Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, Gupta Period
Head of Vishnu from Besnagar
4th Century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: India
Creator Active Place: India
Creator Name-CRT: India, Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, Gupta Period
Title: Head of Vishnu from Besnagar
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 300
Creation End Date: 399
Creation Date: 4th Century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: sandstone
Dimensions: Overall: 40.6cm x 38.1cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1969.57
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Context: Vedic Hinduism, formulated in India in the second millennium BC, provided the foundations for the Buddhist faith that dominated the early centuries of Indian art. Hinduism regained its prominence again during the medieval period. The Gupta age marks thetime of that transition when Buddhism was still at its height and Hinduism made its spectacular reappearance for the first time. The monumental head seen here provides a magnificent example of the sculpture of this early Hindu revival. The heavy squarishcrown (karandamakuta) with ribbons on the side and a lion's face (simhamukha) in the center of a lotus medallion is typical for the gods Vishnu or Surya. It is not possible to determine which is depicted as nothing from the body of the image survives to provide positive identification. These deities are closely related, however, with Surya being frequently considered an emanation of Vishnu. The hair is rolled up at the back and strings of pearls are twisted around it. While the oval face with almond-shapedeyes, straight nose, and sensuous lips introduces a new Gupta idiom, the head still retains enough Kushana characteristics to allow dating it to the early Gupta period. Furthermore, the relief of Vishnu from cave 6 in Udayagiri in the Vidisa District of Madhya Pradesh, dated by the inscription to AD 401, displays close stylistic relations with this sculpture. The head reportedly came from the Triveni temple at Besnagar situated in the Vidisa District, not far from Udayagiri. The inspiring spiritual expression of the face characterizes Gupta sculpture. It is achieved by the same means evident in the head of Buddha (1963.504) where the subtle smile lightens the face, conveying a feeling of peace and compassion. S.C.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1969.57
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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