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20th Century

Tamil Nadu

Height: 21.5 in (54.6 cms)

Goddess Durga is one of the most popular and powerful manifestations of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. It is said that at one time the 'asuras' or demons were wreaking havoc and misery in the celestial world of the Gods. One of them, Mahishasura, was extremely powerful and could change his form at will, thus escaping the Gods. He had received a boon that no man or mortal could kill him. The Gods therefore performed a religious ritual and created Goddess Durga, a extremely powerful goddess of paramount beauty with ten arms, who's 'vahana' or vehicle is a lion. Each one of the Gods and Goddesses gave her one of their choicest weapons to destroy Mahishasura.

Goddess Durga chased Mahishasura over the three worlds, which shook in a terrible fight that ensued over days. To escape notice, the 'asura' finally assumed the form of a buffalo. However, Durga immediately saw through this disguise and killed the buffalo with the 'trishula' or trident given to her by Shiva, thus killing Mahisasura. Durga is therefore also called 'Mahisasuramardini'.

This exquisite woodcarving portrays goddess Durga seated on the back of a lion with a trident in her raised hand. Durga is crowned and bejeweled. She looks all-powerful, and the lion looks menacing with large bulbous eyes, a thick mane and a powerful muscular body. This carving is vibrant and full of life. Multi-armed Goddess Durga seems to be poised to attack Mahishasura. This is quite a rare subject on wood and has been very well executed by a master artisan.

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