Vishnu on Ananta, the Endless Serpent

Vishnu on Ananta, the Endless Serpent

c. 1700

Gum tempera and gold on paper

Page: 17.8 x 17.1 cm (7 x 6 3/4 in.)

Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection; Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2018.155



Before the creation of the world, the god Vishnu was asleep on the serpent Ananta, floating on the cosmic ocean. When the time came for him to create the world, Vishnu’s wife Lakshmi woke him gently by massaging his feet. Then, out of his navel emerged a lotus flower, and Vishnu gave birth to Brahma, the god of creation.

As plants that grow in water, lotus flowers indicate the presence of the waters, and in this painting they are boldly distributed over a deep brown background with basket-weave patterning.

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