VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Vishnu on Ananta-Shesha
MPE 4468
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The little sculpture of gilded bronze, decorated with semiprecious stones, is exquisitely executed. It represents an unusual iconography of Vishnu standing on the coils of Ananta-Shesha, the immortal and infinite snake, with seven heads of Shesha forming a canopy. This Vishnu form is usually imagined lying: famous is the big one floating in the centre of a tank in Budhanilikantha, Katmandu valley. The king of Nepal is not allowed to see this deity at Budhanilkantha. It is believed that if the king sees this form of Vishnu he will die. The quality of the piece is particularly clear in the tangle of the wriggling tails that forms the base. In his reduced dimensions, the set is distinguished for the harmony and the quality of the composition.

History of the Object
Perhaps it was Gioacchino da S.Anatolia (capuchin missionary in Tibet and Nepal from 1721 to 1744) who presented this Nepalese bronze, along with letters and gifts from the Dalai Lama and from the King of Tibet, to Benedetto XIV (pope from 1740 to 1758).

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Gilded bronze, semiprecious stones 
Measurements
Height cm. 22  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Nepal 
Geography
Nepal 
Time period
AD 17th century ~ AD 17th century 
Creation date
17th Century; (?) 
Function
Worship 
Acquisition
According to archive files, the statue was presented by a capuchin missionary to pope Benedetto XIV (Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, Bologna 1675- Roma 1758). He gave it to the Archaeological Museum of the Bologna University. The Pigorini Museum had it in exchange in 1878. 
Copyright
©Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Roma 
Acknowledgements
Text: Loretta Paderni, Francesco de Feo Photo: Giorgio Bronchi, Fabio Naccari ©Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Roma 
Owner
Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, RomaState property, Italy 
Museum
Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico  
Credit line
 

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