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Shiva as Sharabha Overpowers Vishnu as Narasimha

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Udaipur, Rajasthan, Mewar Region, India, Asia

c. 1720

Opaque watercolor, black and gold inks, and gold on paper

Image: 8 1/8 × 6 1/2 inches (20.6 × 16.5 cm) Sheet: 9 1/2 × 8 inches (24.1 × 20.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Vishnu incarnated as the half-man, half-lion Narasimha (his fourth avatar) to subdue a particularly powerful demon. Afterward, however, Narasimha himself became too powerful. To stop him, Shiva incarnated in the form of the Sharabha, an eight-legged man-lion-bird. Although said to be a lion, the Sharabha shown here more closely resembles a tiger, including body stripes formed by small snakes and sages. His head is eaglelike, but he has a human ear and Shiva's golden matted hair, from which emerges the river Ganges and the moon. His golden feathery wings hold tiny deities, and his belly the sun-the whole world is contained within Shiva Sharabha. Below sits four-armed Vishnu-Narasimha, who has the body of a human, but the head and coloring of a tiger.