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Buddhist art
Durgā Mahiṣāsuramardinī
12th century
Durgā Mahiṣāsuramardinī 
Copper with traces of gilding Height: 38.5 cm

  Durgā in Sanskrit means “hard to approach”. She is the wrathful manifestation of Pārvatī, the consort of Śiva, and the most important deity of the Śaktist school. Followers of the school believe that Śakti (the primordial cosmic energy) is Brahma (the energy that brings the universe into existence).

  This work depicts the story of ten-armed Durgā slaying the demon buffalo. While the severed buffalo head lies on the pedestal, the true demon—an asura—springs forth from the wound. Durgā’s left leg tramples the buffalo’s body and one of her main hands grabs the asura, while the other transfixes him with a trident.

The polygonal pedestal, boat-shaped mandorla, and flames in serrated patterns are characteristic of statuary of the late Pāla dynasty (750–1199). This work exhibits impressive dynamism and power.


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