Dasavatara, (Das=ten and avatara =incarnation or descent) of Lord Visnu, is the most popular concept of Hinduism, which has been widely worshipped by the Hindus in one or the other form.' Stone, bronze, terracotta, painting on pata (cloth), a wood were the most accepted material on which a number of images of Visnu were made.' Apart from these materials, ivory was also used for making the image of a deity. The earliest reference of deity made from ivory is of seated Buddha from Kashmir region, which belongs to eighth-ninth century A.D.' From seventeenth century onwards several images of gods-goddesses were made in ivory and National Museum at New Delhi has a good collection of such images.'' Among the various gods-goddesses images, the most attractive images are the Dasavatara of Lord Visnu, which has been intricately carved on three objects. First, is the most attractive example of a small home shrine, second is a box and third is the manuscript cover. Small and beautiful, all these ivory objects have been carved with high quality of aesthetics, in the most outstanding manner. The focus of this paper is twofold; first to look at the aesthetic qualities of Dasavatara images of the National Museum collection and second aspect is to examine as to why these objects were made. Especially when, the ivory being a bone medium, is forbidding for worship. Before discussing any further, I would like to discuss the three objects illustrating Dasavatara images.
STEPPED HOME SHRINE
ancient, epics, Handloom, literature
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