Krishna on Garuda
Garuda, the Hindu god who is part man and part bird, symbolizes the power of the sun and is known for slaying evil serpents. In art he usually appears as the mount or vehicle of Vishnu. Here Garuda carries Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, who not only has borrowed Vishnu's mount but also holds his war discus (chakra). He stands energetically astride Garuda's head and shoulders, and with the index finger of his open left hand makes a warning gesture. Legend tells us that on many occasions Krishna rode out on the back of Garuda to do battle. In a tale well known to the Javanese, Garuda stole the elixir of immortality from the gods, who had thought it was well protected by two poisonous serpents from ...
Second half of the 9th century
Image and text © Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019
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