In the myth of Vishnu's boar incarnation, or avatar, a demon hid the earth at the bottom of the primordial ocean. The god took the form of a boar (varaha) and rescued her. Even with his legs missing, this sculpture conveys the powerful lunge of his body as he raises the earth to safety. Personified as the goddess Bhu, one of Vishnu's two wives, she does not appear helpless; perched on his raised elbow, she returns his adoring gaze.
This image was popular among kings of India, who appear to have appropriated it as a metaphor for their own conquest over new territories, as though the king, like Vishnu, rescued the land and raised it to safety and prosperity.