Varaha Avatar of Vishnu Seated on Lotus Kerala Mural Painting

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Varaha Avatar of Vishnu Seated on Lotus Kerala Mural Painting
Varaha Avatar of Vishnu Seated on Lotus Kerala Mural Painting

Lord Varaha, the third of Vishnu’s dashavataras, is the most instantly recognizable of the incarnations. The word ‘Varaha’ is Sanskrit for boar; and while some iconographies feature Varaha as a pig-shaped deity, the painting that you see on this page is of an anthropomorphic boar-headed human-bodied entity.

Lord Varaha is possessed of eight arms (ashtabhujadhari) and clad in a flame-colored dhoti. It is the predominant color in the palette of this mural. It is to be found in the palms of His numerous hands, the snout of the boar face, and the lifelike petals of the lotus-bloom throne. A gorgeous gradient of the same shades and tints characterizes the upper half of the background and makes an organic halo around His head.

This vibrance of color and density of detail are hallmarks of the authentic Varaha Kerala Mural Painting. Note the lifelike eyes of the animal face, the perfect symmetry of the adornments on His body, and the complex brushstrokes that break the monotones in the background. An image of Varaha in the Kerala mural idiom would be an unusual addition to the home or office of any Vaishnavite.

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