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Asian art

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Varaha rescuing the earth goddess, Bhudevi

10th century


Unknown Artist


This finely carved stele would originally have been found in a niche on the outside of a brick temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, one of the major gods of the Hindu trinity. It depicts an episode from Hindu mythology where the Earth was dragged down and submerged by a titan named Hiranyaksha. Varaha, the boar avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, descended to rescue the Earth from the bottom of the ocean where she had become imprisoned. In this image Varaha is shown in his moment of victory, emerging from the ocean bearing the Earth, represented as the goddess Bhu, in the crook of his elbow. Beneath him, holding a long-stemmed lotus which shelters the deity, is Ananta, the serpent of endless time, entwined with his consort. Above are two vidyadharas or bearers of wisdom who bring garlands. This scene is essentially an image of cosmic creation. At the pedestal of this stele is the figure of a devotee, perhaps the donor of this image to the temple.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, March 2005


Place where the work was made

West Bengal India


10th century

Media category


Materials used



65.4 x 30.5 x 30.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1999


Not on display

Accession number


The provenance of this work is under review and records will be updated as new details become available. The Gallery welcomes any information. Contact


Art of the Past, pre 1999, New York/United States of America

Referenced in 3 publications


Gouriswar Bhattacharya, Oriental art [vol 45, no 3], 'Visnu assuming the boar form', pg 44-47, Surrey, 1999, 44-47.

Susan Huntington and John Huntington, Leaves from the Bodhi Tree, Seattle, 1990. No direct reference to this sculpture is given in this exhibition. Reference entered on belhaf of Jackie Menzies' request.

Judith White, Look, 'A year of gifts to the Gallery', pg. 16, Melbourne, Dec 1999-Jan 2000, 16 (colour illus.).