Incised Copper Vishnu Footprint (Vishnupada)
length: 18cm, width: 9cm
This Vishnupada or tantric representation of Vishnu’s foot is of sheet copper engraved with symbols.
pada-puja or the worship of the foot or feet, has a long tradition in India. The practice seems to have originated with Buddhism. The Buddha, before attaining Nirvana, forbade his followers from personal worship, so his followers introduced various symbols which represented him and which could become the subjects of their devotion. The representation of his footprint being one such symbol and now many if not most sites of Buddhist worship feature representations of his feet.
Some hundreds of years later, perhaps abound the fifth century AD, followers of Vishnu adopted representations of Vishnu’s feet (
Vishnupada) as part of their rituals, most particularly in Rajasthan.
Vishnu, the manifest form of cosmos, is believed to have in his foot the entire cosmos and, so multiple symbols are accepted as representing Vishnu. These symbols vary from place to place but can include the conch,
chakra, flag, fish, pot, sword, bow and arrows, axe, throne, lotus, lyre, trident and mace. Some of these symbols can be seen engraved onto the Vishnupada example here.
Jain-Neubauer, J., Feet & Footwear in Indian Culture, Bata Shoe Museum/Mapin, 2000.
UK art market
Inventory no.: 1259
to see Indian bronzes. Click here
to see a conch associated with Vishnu worship.