Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Churning of the Ocean of Milk

Date:
ca. 1780–90
Culture:
India (Punjab Hill, Mandi)
Medium:
Ink and opaque watercolor on paper
Dimensions:
6 7/8 x 7 11/16 in. (17.5 x 19.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin N. Haas, 1977
Accession Number:
1977.443.2
Not on view
At the time of the great deluge aeons ago, many treasures— including amrita, the nectar of immortality—were lost beneath the primordial ocean. Gods and demons still jockeying for power decided to raise these powerful objects from the watery depths. They harnessed the serpent Vasuki as a rope to turn Mount Mandara and Vishnu assumed his tortoise avatar to support the giant pivot. The demons, tricked into pulling the head of the snake, were weakened by its poisonous breath. Here, many of the treasures have already been raised and are visible in the sky, while Vishnu is seen twice, below and atop the peak.
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