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Boar Incarnation of God Vishnu (Varaha)

A work made of phyllite.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of phyllite.


c. 10th century


Madhya Pradesh

About this artwork

When cosmic order is imperiled, Vishnu descends to earth in different avataras (incarnations) to restore it. Varaha, Vishnu’s boar incarnation, is the third of ten such avataras. After the demon Hiranyaksha hides the earth in the primeval ocean, Varaha bores beneath the waters and rescues her, emerging triumphantly with the earth goddess Bhudevi on his tusk. Varaha’s porcine body is covered with rows of sages, animals, and other beings indebted to his beneficence. Vishnu’s signature attributes—the chakra (discus), shankha (conch), and gada (mace)—appear by the boar’s feet. Boar images of Varaha made across central India were often housed in independent shrines facing the main entrance of temples dedicated to Vishnu.


On View, Gallery 141


Arts of Asia


Boar Incarnation of God Vishnu (Varaha)


Madhya Pradesh (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

901 CE–1000




56 × 79.5 × 29.7 cm (22 1/16 × 31 5/16 × 11 11/16 in.)

Credit Line

James W. and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection. Gift of Marilynn Alsdorf

Reference Number


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