Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Margalit Slovin

Vishnu in his form as Varaha, the boar
ca. 11th century
Eastern India
H: 58.5; W: 31.5; D: 10 cm
Bequest of Wolf Ladejinsky, Washington, DC, through the America-Israel Cultural Foundation
Accession number: B78.1336
Vishnu, in his form (avatar) as the boar Varaha, descended to earth to defeat a demon that had pulled the goddess Prithvi, representing the earth, to the bottom of the cosmic ocean. The thousandyear battle was finally won by Varaha, who lifted the earth out of the ocean between his tusks and restored it to its place in the universe. The symbolic significance of Vishnu as Preserver can be understood here in relation to the devastating floods that have plagued India since time immemorial.

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir