• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1974

    Indian & Southeast Asian Art

    21 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 718

    India, Kangra, circa 1780

    Vamana Being Received by King Bali

    Price Realised  


    India, Kangra, circa 1780
    Vamana Being Received by King Bali
    Holy men performing a ritual around a fire at center, with demons assisting at right, the king and queen receiving Vishnu's dwarf avatar at left
    Opaque pigments and gold on wasli
    9½ x 12½ in. (24.2 x 31.8 cm.)

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    Vamana, the fifth avatar of Vishnu, came to earth to prevent the greedy sovereign, King Bali, from taking over the heavens. The present example depicts the moment at which he presents himself to the king, who in the midst of his ambitious preparations. Following the rituals, the king distributes alms, at which point he granted Vamana any wish he desired. Vamana asked for all the land he could cover with three steps and the king agreed. Immediately Vishnu changed into a giant and covered the earth and sky with two steps and then asked Bali where he should place his last step. Knowing he had been bested, Bali offered his head to Vishnu, who immediately sent the king to the netherworld.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from a New Jersey Collector