3. Durga Mahishamardini
Height: 23.2 cm
Fifteenth-sixteenth century; purchased from Chittagong
Catalogue number 3.
Accession number 88.297.
An image in good physical condition is considered suitable to be dressed, garlanded, and given jewelry and cosmetics. Bathing and dressing the bodies of the gods is a major part of the preparation for worship. Only when they have received this service do the gods grant their benediction.
Both images depict Durga slaying Mahisha, the demon who takes a buffalo's form. She is poised with one foot on the back of her lion. Her ten hands clasp powerful weapons. The demon is transforming himself into a human being as the goddess and her lion attack him. In these images, a human head is emerging from the buffalo's body.
Both images are mounted upon rectangular pedestals which also support the figures of Durga's four children: Ganesa, to her right with an elephant's trunk; Lakshmi above with a lotus bud in her hand; Saraswati to Durga's left; and Kartikeya, the battle chief with his sword and shield below. Although the iconography of these two images is quite similar, they carry quite different meanings in a ritual context. An old and worn image is usually not kept in a shrine
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