In keeping with Her textual iconography, Devi Durga is a wrathful deity. Worshipped especially in the Eastern Delta region, She is usually depicted with ten arms seated on the back of a lion rearing to go. The painting that you see on this page, however, is slightly off the beaten track.
The Devi is seated on the back of the tiger, its bloodthirsty tongue spills out of its sharp-toothed jaws. Seated in a rudimentary lalitasana, She is possessed of (‘dhari’) eight (‘ashta’) arms (‘bhuja’) instead of the usual ten. The composure is one of maternal compassion as opposed to wrath. While She does hold the trishoola (trident) in Her right anterior hand - indicative of Lord Shiva, Her husband - the mudra (stance of the hands) is one of blessing and not actually wielding the weapon. A tall, slender crown graces Her brow; a crimson halo adds a pop of colour to the predominantly monotone composition.
From the temple structure on the upper half of the canvas and the plinth, to the central deity-and-vahana ensemble, a flaxen yellow colour characterises the painting. Hints of crimson on the mouth of the Devi, the stripes on the tiger’s body, and the rubies on Her throne of gold. The inky blackness of the cosmos in the background adds to the ethereal quality of the work.
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