Pardon our dust while we update this corner of the website.

Kurmavatara (Vishnu's Incarnation as a Tortoise)
Page from a dispersed Dasavatara set and/or Bhagavata Purana (Story of Lord Vishnu)

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, India, Asia
or made in Basohli, Jammu and Kashmir, India, Asia

c. 1760-1765

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

8 x 11 inches (20.3 x 27.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

* Gallery 331, Asian Art, third floor (Dutt Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1984

Social Tags

There are currently no user tags associated with this object.

[Add Your Own Tags]

The Hindu god Vishnu activates each cycle of existence by creating the universe, together with the devas (gods who uphold cosmic order) and the asuras (anti-gods or demons who disrupt it). Vishnu intervenes in the perpetual struggle by incarnating in earthly forms called avatars, usually standardized as a set of ten. The second of Vishnu’s avatars was the tortoise Kurma (seen here as the circle in the water that supports the pink mountain on which Vishnu sits). When chaos and floods devastated the earth, all good things were lost in an ocean of milk. Kurma dove to the ocean bottom and the devas and asuras joined forces to set the cosmic mountain Meru on his back. Then the serpent king Vasuki wrapped around the mountain as a churning rope. The devas and asuras stood on opposite sides, churning the ocean of milk to release the treasures.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.