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Garuda (British Museum)

Garuda - British Museum - Joy of Museums


This gilt bronze statue depicts a Garuda as part bird and part human with flaming hair that bears the symbols of the sun and moon. The Garuda is a legendary bird creature from Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology. A Garuda is generally a protector with the power to swiftly go anywhere and is ever watchful against enemies. A Garuda is a part of state insignia in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

This Garuda was acquired from Tibet, where the main religion is Tibetan Buddhism. In the Buddhist tradition, a Garuda is a golden-winged bird from Buddhist texts. It is represented with either zoomorphic (animal form) or anthropomorphic (part bird, part human form) iconography.


  • Title:               Garuda
  • Date:               19th Century
  • Findspot:        Tibet
  • Materials:       Gold gilded bronze
  • Culture:          Tibetan Buddhism
  • Dimensions:   H: 69.3 cm; W: 60 cm; Depth: 24 cm; W: 9 kg
  • Museum:        The British Museum

A Tour of the British Museum

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Ancient Greece and Rome Collection

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Asian Collection

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The Prints and Drawings Collection

Information on The British Museum


  • Why is anthropomorphic (part animal and part human) iconography so pervasive in many cultures?
  • Is this Garuda figure a fusion of myths, imagination, metaphors, and symbolism?
  • Is the power of nature invoked through the use of anthropomorphic art?
  • Is anthropomorphic art an expression of our awe of the power, grace, and wisdom in animals?
  • Does this Garuda image capture both our love and fear of nature?


“A child without education is like a bird without wings.”
– Tibetan Proverb


Photo Credit: 1) JOM 

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