About this object

History of use

Indian popular religious prints have been published for nearly a century, first by German presses, later by Indian ones. The prints may take the form of calendars, posters, or simply images. The style of the representations is European. In the beginning they were Hindu images, but are now acquiring elements both of folk art and a romantic secularism. It is a living art currently influenced by the movie industry and non-Hindu religions. The images are a vehicle for advertising and are also used for religious purposes.

Cultural context

calendar art; popular religious art

Iconographic meaning

Vishnu, preserver of the universal order, establishes law and order and protects the world from evil and destruction through ten earthly incarnations. He is identified by: rotating discus; six-petaled lotus; mace symbolizing his power of knowledge; white conch shell; gold crown; and his flying mount, Garuda. In this print, he is identified with his two consorts, Sri Devi and Bhu Devi.

Physical description

Rectangular calendar print depicting Vishnu, a four-armed male, with two dark haired females each in red saris. All are seated on the back of flying bird with cobra in talons. Bird's outstretched wings are orange-brown. All three of the figures are adorned with jeweled gold crowns, earrings, bracelets and anklets. Vishnu has a striped floral garland around neck. He holds an object in each of his four hands: gold ringed white conch shell, gold disk on index finger, pink lotus and gold mace. His bottom arms are also grasping the females around waists. Females each carry gold handled, white flying whisk in outstretched outside arm. Light orange, yellow and blue ground. Printed at top "merchants and cotton spinners"; artist's signature at base.