Figure of Kurma, the Tortoise incarnation of VishnuOn display
Contact us about this object
Figure of Kurma, the Tortoise incarnation of Vishnu
Date1801 (Samvat 1858)
Material and technique
bronze, solid cast
Dimensions39 x 22 x 13.5 cm max. (height x width x depth)
No. of items
Museum locationFirst floor | Gallery 32 | India from AD 600
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.
In: Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987)
Glossary of terms
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.
Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987), no. 61 on p. 50, illus. p. 50