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Theresa Mccullough

Mahishasuramardini (Durga Slaying the Buffalo Demon)
Northern India, Hindu Shahi
circa 7th century
Height: 19.8 cm (7 3/4 ins)

This small marble sculpture depicts a popular image of the goddess Durga as Mahishasuramardini, destroyer of the Buffalo Demon (Mahishasura). The
goddess is portrayed standing victoriously over the recumbent buffalo, one foot on its back and the other crushing its head. She is four-armed and holds the tail of the buffalo in her lower right hand as if to claim her trophy. The spear she holds in her upper right hand is the instrument with which she has killed the Buffalo. She wears a typical Kashmiri crown and is adorned with various items of jewellery including a necklace of pearls which rests above her breasts, large circular earrings, bracelets and anklets.

Durga is one of the few goddesses to be elevated from consort status in the patriarchal Vedic tradition to become a primary deity. The Hindu gods ask for her help and equip her with weapons to conquer the Buffalo demon who has so far eluded them. She is therefore one of the most important of the primary goddesses.


Compare the crown to a figure of Lakshmi, Pal, P., A Collecting Odyssey; Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art from the James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, Thames and Hudson, 1997, cat 244.

all text & images © Theresa McCullough

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