Indian and Himalayan Art
Souvenir Painting of the Fish Incarnation of Vishnu (Matsyavatara)Made in Puri District, Orissa, Puri Region, India, Asia
c. Late 19th to early 20th century
Artist/maker unknown, India
Opaque watercolor on lacquered wood
Currently not on view
1995-151-6Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley F. Myers, 1995
LabelVishnu 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.