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Yoga: The Art of Transformation

approx. 900–975
India; Kanchipuram or Kaveripakkam, Tamil Nadu state
Possibly dolerite

Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, L.A. Young Fund, 57.88

Adorned with writhing cobras, this yogini sways atop a pedestal with an image of a headless corpse, which invokes the cremation grounds of Tantric ritual. She brandishes a club and shield, emblems that would have resonated as combative and protective in the context of a royal temple. For reasons unknown, kings ceased to build yogini temples after the thirteenth century. But around this time, the powerful goddesses were internalized into the bodies of hatha yoga practitioners as forms and reservoirs of energy.