Matsyavatara (the Fish Incarnation of Vishnu)

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Puri District, Odisha, Puri Region, India, Asia

c. Late 19th - early 20th century

Opaque watercolor on lacquered wood

Diameter: 7 1/2 inches (19.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley F. Myers, 1995

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Vishnu appears on earth-in one of ten standard incarnations-to conquer powerful demons who threaten the order of the universe. The demon Somakasura took the form of a great conch and stole the sacred scriptures (the Vedas) from their keeper, the god Brahma. Vishnu incarnated as the fish Matsya and overcame Somakasura to return the scriptures to Brahma. Here blue-skinned Vishnu is shown partially emerging from a fish, while the green demon Somakasura likewise rises from his conch shell.