Teaching Ideas

Encouraging Dialogue

For Students K-12

  • Think about the composition of this sculpture, placement of the various figures, and their size. What do these things communicate to us about the figures appearing in this sculpture and their potential roles? Discuss the role of an attendant versus that of a god.
  • What is the focus, or most important part, of this stone sculpture and how can you tell?
  • What adjectives would you use to describe the central figure?
  • We know that this sculpture represents the Hindu god Vishnu. How are gods and goddesses or other divine beings represented in other works of art you have seen?
  • Vishnu is the protector god in Hindu religion and serves as a hero in many Hindu stories. What is the importance of mythology and storytelling in various religions?
  • We know that this sculpture would have been one of many pieces used to decorate a Hindu temple. How are the sacred or gathering spaces of other religions decorated? What is the potential purpose of these decorations?

Making Connections

For Students K-12

  • Vishnu, the Buddha Sakyamuni, and Jesus Christ represent key figures in three of the world’s largest religions. Write a short essay comparing and contrasting their representations in the three DMA objects Vishnu as Varaha (2002.25), Buddha Sakyamuni (2006.21), _and _Ecce Homo (1969.16)_. _Pay special attention to how the figures are presented compositionally and spatially, the materials used, their scale, etc.
  • Consider how Vishnu’s portrayal differs between his representation in_ Vishnu as Varaha _and _Vishnu and Attendants. _ Compare and contrast the two sculptures focusing on the main figure, materials used, and attributes shown. Encourage students to assume the pose of each figure and describe how they feel similar or different.
  • Research another work of art in the DMA collection that features a religious figure. Write a short essay or use a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting this object with Vishnu and Attendants.
  • Hindu texts and the stories of the gods serve as sources for both sculptors and dancers. Read one of the Hindu stories that feature Vishnu as a hero figure. How do the details in the story create Vishnu’s persona as protector? Translate the story into visual art and movement. Draw an image of Vishnu as he is described in the story. Choreograph a series of movements for Vishnu as he is described in the story.
  • Compare and contrast the drawing and the dance, which were created from the same story. Then, consider how

      the description in the story, your drawing of Vishnu, and your dance compare to the representation of him in_Vishnu and Attendants_?
  • In groups, research a particular religious or sacred structure from the list provided. Create a presentation with images that presents how artistic elements such as painting, sculpture, inlay, etc. were used to decorate the space. Discuss the effect of these decorations. Potential structures: Notre Dame, Hagia Sophia, Temple of Heaven, Angkor Wat, Dome of the Rock.