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Sculptures > Hindu > Vishnu > A Tender Display of Affection (Varaha with Bhudevi)
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A Tender Display of Affection (Varaha with Bhudevi)

A Tender Display of Affection (Varaha with Bhudevi)

A Tender Display of Affection (Varaha with Bhudevi)

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South Indian Temple Wood Carving

5.0 ft x 1.5 ft x 0.4 ft
22.6 kg
Item Code:
EG12
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In the sequence of Vishnu's ten incarnations, Varaha - the boar, follows his fish and tortoise avatars. Differing texts give various explanations for his taking up the form of a boar. According to one, Vishnu thus transformed himself to rescue the world which was sinking into the ocean, weighed under the burden of its own evil., or, as another text puts it, due to overpopulation and the consequent increase in grain production (a firm warning to the overindulging consumerist society). A third variation however, which is also a creation myth, says that Vishnu picked up a piece of ground from under the ocean and spreading it on a lotus leaf, created the world. This cosmogonic myth is undoubtedly of greater antiquity than the ones which underscore his role as the saviour of the earth.

In most sculptural representations of Varaha, Vishnu assumes an anthropomorphic form except for the head, which is that of a boar. Here he sits with his extended left leg supporting the rescued earth goddess (Bhudevi). The latter is personified as a beautiful woman perched demurely on her lord's thigh. The two sit in an affectionate repose. While one of his left arms encircles her slender waist, the goddess's right hand too shares in the affections and entwines itself around him. In a tender display of affection, Varaha gently supports her feet on his extended right hand. Here it is relevant to observe that according to ancient texts Vishnu later took on Bhudevi as his second consort, the first being goddess Lakshmi.

Typically, as in this instance, Varaha's body is depicted frontally, but the face is nearly always in semi-profile. He has four arms, two of which hold implement characteristic of Vishnu, namely the conch and lotus. The body is dominated by the large head topped with a towering crown signifying his exalted status in the Hindu pantheon. The modelling of the figure emphasizes the deity's heroic proportions and a swelling sense of volume. The serpent below his feet symbolizes the aquatic serpent, stepping upon which he triumphantly emerged from the primordial waters.

Two dancing yakshis at the bottom of the panel, on either side of a lotus pillar, joyously celebrate the cosmic victory over evil.

This sculpture was created by Shri Sengottuvel of Salem (Tamil Nadu), using Vengai wood.

Of Related Interest:

Miniature Painting of Varaha

Varaha Mask

Varaha in Brass

Varaha (In Indian Art, Culture and Literature)

Varaha Images in Madhya Pradesh


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