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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Garuda (British Museum)

Garuda - British Museum - Joy of Museums

Garuda

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.

Garuda

  • 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

Ancient Egypt and Sudan Collection

Middle East Collection

Ancient Greece and Rome Collection

Britain, Europe, and Prehistory Collection

Asian Collection

Africa, Oceania and the Americas Collection

The Prints and Drawings Collection

Information on The British Museum

Reflections

  • 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?

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

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Photo Credit: 1) JOM 

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