South Indian style wood carvings are one of the most popular traditions that has maintained its beauty till now. This Dashavatara panel shown here is a perfect example of the elegance, uniqueness and accuracy of this style of art. These primary ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are said to descend on earth in their iconic forms in various eras of life to restore the cosmic order; framed here in a sophisticated lotus leaf border colored in sober green and orange tones. All the ten avataras stand with three lotus shaped parasol-like ornamentation, decorated with a Vaishnava tilak in centre over their heads, separated by a long horizontal border.
All the incarnations except Parshuram and Vamana are ornated with beautifully carved long multi-layered crowns. Starting from the left, Matsya avatar has the torso of a man and bottom of a fish, carved in sharp slaty grey color tone, and the hands are positioned in typical Vishnu mudras, revered for slaying the demons Hayagriva and Shankhasur; Kurma avatar, the giant tortoise took the weight of mount Mandara during the churning of Ocean of Milk, carved here in smooth tortoise body in a dull yellow and blue tone; Varaha, the boar, killed the demon Hiranyaksha and stands here in a blessing mudra, garbed in a stylized orange dhoti; the famous Narasimha avatar having the head of a ferocious lion and body of a man disemboweled Hiranyakashipu and saved Prahalada. He is carved here in his iconic expressions and realistic lion hairs surrounding his face; Vamana avatar, the paunchy dwarf adorns the facial expressions of a child and holds an umbrella in one hand and a baton in the other.
The warrior sage Parashurama, stands here in light hued, green and blue shades and finely matted hair, holds an axe in his hand; Lord Rama, the ideal king of Ayodhya has his life recounted in Ramayana and stands here holding a bow while the other hand blesses the devotees of abhaya; Kalki avatar is the one yet to come at the end of Kali yuga and unlike his usual iconography of riding a horse, he stands here with his weapon in a bright green colored striped dhoti; Lord Krishna wears the most unique pink dhoti and is portrayed in the iconic blue color, playing melodious sounds from his flute; last here is the horse headed avatar, Hayagriva, who returned the vedas to Brahma by killing the demons Madhu and Kaitabha.
All the incarnations are sculpted in utmost beauty and are garbed in colorful stylized attires along with charming jewels. The dark and hazy black background highlights the colors and structures in a more precise and charming way.