Souvenir Painting of the Fish Incarnation of Vishnu (Matsyavatara)
Artist/maker unknown, India
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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.