The first of the Dashavatars of Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Being saves the world from the deluge. Growing from a tiny fish in Manu's hands into something bigger and bigger, from a pot, tank and finally to the ocean, the fish saves Manu and the rest from the parlaya (deluge) that it forewarns before the lord presents himself in this avatar -- half-man, half-fish, cradling four infants, presumably representing the four Vedas. Varma's representation of the lord shows the shankh (conch) and chakra (discus) as well as the Kireetam (crown).


  • Title: Matsya Avatar
  • Creator: Ravi Varma Press
  • Date Created: 1880
  • Physical Dimensions: 25 x 35 cm
  • Type: Reproduction
  • Original Source: From the Sandeep & Gitanjali Maini Foundation
  • Rights: Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation, Bengaluru
  • Art Form: Print
  • Labels and Inscriptions: Ravi Varma Press, Malavli, Lonavala
  • Creator's Lifetime: 1848-04-29/1906-10-02
  • About the Artist: Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), India’s foremost artist, who took art to the masses, hailed from Kilimanoor, in the erstwhile state of Travancore. From a very young age, Ravi Varma, was drawn towards art, imbibing techniques from his uncle and mentor Raja Raja Varma and his mother, Umayamba Bayi, a poet in her own right. Varma was much sought after by the Royals and owing to his popularity and reputation, his spectacular and richly-textured works were prolific. His realistic portrayals of contemporary figures and interpretations of religious and mythological figures fetched him instant and enduring success, lifting his standing in the art world. If the Royals and his countrymen were in awe of this great talent, the international world was spellbound by his imagination and creativity. He ensured that art would be accessible to all, through reproductions of his paintings which were made available, and affordable to everyone.

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