Durga slaying the Demon Mahisa (Durgamahisasuramardini) - 2009.98.1_1


Durga slaying the Demon Mahisa (Durgamahisasuramardini)

Maker: Artist unknown
Medium:cast brass
Geography: Bengal, India
Date: 18-19th century
22.5 x 9.25 x 8.6 cm
Object number: 2009.98.1
Credit Line: Gift of Charles Green
Not on view
DescriptionThe Hindu goddess Durga is depicted standing over the demon Mahisa while  thursting a spear into his chest. Her right foot rests on her lion-like animal mount who grips the demon's arm between his teeth. Her left foot rests on the form of a buffalo, taken on by Mahisa in battle, from which he emerged at the moment of his death. According to a narrative in the Devi Mahatmya story of the Markandeya Purana text, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight an asura (an inhumane force/demon) named Mahisha. He had unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds, and he could not be defeated by any man or god, anywhere. He underestimated the powers of a female and attacked Durga in many different forms, each of which were gracefully slain by the goddess. Thus Durga became known as " the slayer of Mahisa" (mahisasuramardini). Visual depictions of Durga in this form serve as a metaphor for the ultimate goal of Hinduism, the triumph of spirit of the material body and the release from the cycle of rebirth (moksha). Durga has a strong following in Bengal, from where this sculpture originates, and is the focus of the largest annual festival there called "Durga Puja".
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