September 6, 2020 through Summer 2022

Opening date subject to change based on Pennsylvania COVID-19 guidelines.

Payne Hurd Gallery

As Hinduism developed in India, it enveloped a vast range of local deities into its pantheon; many new deities also emerged over time. Many Hindus regard these deities, totaling some 330 million by some believers’ count, as manifestations of one universal spirit known as Brahman, while others explain the supreme deity in female form, or Shakti.

When these deities appear in the world to offer guidance to humans or right wrongs, they take a material form, or avatar. The sculptures in this exhibition show some of the infinite avatars in which these deities can manifest, and recount stories from Hindu tradition.

Curated by Dr. Ingrid Furniss

With thanks and appreciation to Professor Michael W. Meister, W. Norman Brown Professor of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania, and his students (Nachiket Chanchani, Sarah Gibbons, Rubab Qureshi, and Steven Vose) for their assistance in research.

Featured image: Detail: South Indian (Tamil Nadu), Candesvara, ca. 1000, granite. Gift of the Jaipaul Family, 2001. (2001.22.11)


Indian Sculptures: Avatars of the Hindu Gods is supported through the generosity of the Harry C. Trexler Trust, the Julius and Katheryn Hommer Foundation, the Century Fund, the Bernard and Audrey Berman Foundation, the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Friends of the Museum.