www.IndianMiniaturePaintings.co.uk - Indian miniature painting: Dasavatara illustration: Vamana Avatara. Jaipur, circa 1880. Gouache and gold on paper. 17.7 x 13cm

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Dasavatara illustration: Vamana Avatara. Jaipur, circa 1880. Opaque watercolour with gold on paper. 17.7 x 13cm

Painted as is often the case during this period on card made like wasli but from English language accounts ledger sheets, in this instance dated 1877.

After King Bali gains power over the devas or gods, Vishnu restores order by appearing as Vamana avatara - his dwarf incarnation - who in the guise of a brahmin tricks King Bali into offering a boon (despite protestations from his purohita or counsel, seen with hand raised to head in alarm) granting him all the land he can cover in three paces. Vamana gives Bali his kamandalu (water pot) and asks the king to pour water from it into his hand to indicate the boon has been offered. On Bali's doing so, Vamana transforms into the gigantic Trivikrama so that two of his steps cover the entire universe whils the third lands on Bali's head pushing him into the netherworld.

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Above: gilt detail reflecting light

Images and text © Peter Blohm