Latkan Vishnu Pada

North India, ca 1940


A gold pendant, LATKAN, set with nine diamonds in open collets, and with two central sapphires, carved like feet, VISHNUPADA

Research report by Naturalis Biodiversity Centre available on request

The VISHNU PADA, or feet of Vishnu, are traditional in Hindu iconography. The footprints of Vishnu are no less revered to than other painted and sculptured images of Vishnu. Vishnu is one of the three gods in the great Hindu Trinity. The other gods are Shiva and Brahma. Shiva is the destroyer, Brahma represents creation and Vishnu is the preserver.
Krishna is recognized as the complete and eighth avatar, incarnation, of the God Vishnu or as the Supreme God in his own right. Krishna is one of the most widely revered and popular of all Hindu deities. Vishnu’s association with the holy waters is illustrated in the blue faces Krishna. The color blue is always associated with infinity (both the skies and the oceans are blue).
Showing reverence to the feet of a deity, and elder, holy man, or someone of higher status is common practice in India. An amulet with the feet of Vishnu around the neck keeps the god close to the heart and indentifies the weare as a Vaishnavite, a follower of Vishnu. A song in the praise of Vishnu’s feet concludes: ‘This very sacred pada (Vishnu’s feet) has bestowed on the lives of many great saint a place of sublimity.’ The blue sapphire VISHNU PADA is a strong reference to VISHNU/KRISHNA worship.

The form of an arrowhead had great symbolic meaning since ancient times. The stone arrowhead spearheads and axes were among man’s earliest lethal weapons. The power to end a life was highly respected by ancients, and the instruments themselves were regarded as magical. Even the mere form of the arrowhead was believed to possess the power to destroy evil spirits. To obtain this protection, a pendant in the form of an arrowhead was worn around the neck. Eventually, the simple arrowhead evolved into a more stylised and embellished form, although the decorations should reinforce the amulet’s auspicious power.