Classroom Activities & Projects
Hinduism and the Fish SymbolLevel: High school-Grade 11 to 12
- Understand the role of sign and symbol in religion
- Identify ways in which religion is reflected in specific works of art
- Identify the origin and significance of various symbols
- Effectively communicate the results of research, using a variety of methods and forms
Go to the 'The Paduka' section of the web exhibition with your students and locate the fish Paduka. Explain that in India the fish is a symbol of fertility and plenty, as well as liberation.
The Hindu god Vishnu appears on Earth in ten incarnations called avatars, to destroy injustice and save humankind. The first avatar of the deity Vishnu was Matsya, a fish. In this incarnation, Vishnu was able to save mankind and the sacred Vedas from destruction by a terrible flood. Because of this avatar, the fish shape often refers to Vishnu and these Padukas may have had religious significance.
Research the ten incarnations of Vishnu. Find two examples of artworks (sculpture, painting) that represent the incarnations.