Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Figure of Kurma, the Tortoise incarnation of Vishnu



  • Vishnu

    Vishnu is, with Shiva, one of the two most important gods in later Hinduism. He is regarded as sustainer of the universe and maintainer of order. Assuming various forms (avatars), he restores the balance of good and evil in the world.


    • First floor | Room 32 | India from 600

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Publications online

  • Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum by J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield

    Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum

    Viṣṇu’s second avatāra, when he served as the pivot or support for the churning stick when the gods and the asuras, using the serpent Vāsuki as a rope, churned the ocean of milk. This is one of the principal Indian creation myths. Viṣṇu is usually represented, as here, with a human upper body. He holds his usual attributes, the cakra, or discus (here bent back), the conch-shell, the club and the lotus.

    There is a short two line inscription in Sanskrit on the base, which reads:
    // Śrī Kūrmasevakaś Cedipatiḥ Kūrmapālaḥ // Jaiṣṭaśukla // 8 // Saṃ // 1858 (?) // muḥkāsī // (sic.)

    The final word of the inscription is obscure.

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