Ancient scriptures differentiate between two types of Narasimha images saumya (placid) and krura (cruel). In placid representations, as here, Narasimha is no different from a conventional image of Vishnu, except that he has a lion's head instead of a human one. In his cruel images he is shown engaged in a violent act, tearing open the villain's guts with his bare nails.
Here, however, we see his wrathful demeanor much softened by the presence of Lakshmi, his wife, whom he supports firmly on his left lap. She looks up lovingly at him with devotion and with her right hand offers him a betel leaf. In her left hand she holds a full blown pink lotus.
In this brightly colored painting framed in a double border, Narasimha sits under a beautiful arch, his magnificently crowned head framed by his faithful serpent Shesha. He wears a Vaishnava tilak on his forehead and nose, and his red eyes display a slight wrath. He has a protruding tongue and his moustache and beard are made up of twirling coils. In his hands he holds the typical attributes of Vishnu - conch, mace and chakra. Narasimha wears a yellow dhoti, justifying Vishnu's name as Pitambar-dhari, or one wearing a yellow cloth. He sits on a magnficent lotus seat, supported by elephants and lions.
This painting was created in the staunchly Vaishnava city of Puri in the north-eastern state of Orissa. It is indeed a tribute to the famed skills of the Orissan artist.
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