Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Yoga Narasimha, Vishnu's Man-Lion Incarnation

Chola period (880–1279)
12th century
India (Tamil Nadu)
Copper alloy
H. 18 3/4 (47.6 cm); W. 13 in. (33 cm); D. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Bequest of Samuel Eilenberg, 1998
Accession Number:
Not on view
Narasimha was an avatar of Vishnu who appeared on earth to slay the evil ruler Hiranyakashipu, who believed himself to be invincible after tricking Brahma into granting him a protective spell. Narasimha is venerated as an embodiment of valor and martial strength; here, he assumes the pose of a meditative yogi after successfully outwitting and slaying the evil king. Narasimha is thus praised as the bringer of peace and order to the world of men. As a meditative yogi, Narasimha assumed Vishnu’s four-armed form and would have carried Vishnu’s weapons—the discus (chakra) and conch—in his raised hands; his lower hands rest passively in meditation.
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