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Series depicting the dashavatara

Awadhi artists

c.1800

Opaque watercolour with gold paint

Devotion to Vishnu and his ten earthly incarnations or ‘avatars’ (the ‘dashavatara’) is particularly prevalent in north India. According to Hindu belief, Vishnu was compelled to descend to earth in these ten animal and human manifestations in order to restore dharma (cosmic order).

Indian School, late 18th century

Vishnu and Lakshmi

Indian School, late 18th century

Matsya, the first incarnation of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Kurma, the second incarnation of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Varaha, the third incarnation of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Vamana, the fifth incarnation of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Narasimha, the fourth incarnation of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Buddha, the ninth incarnation of Vishnu.

Indian School, late 18th century

Kalki, the tenth incarnation of Vishnu.