The merciless Durga brings the great Mahishasura to His knees. Her simhavahana (lion-mount) has him between its teeth, while the dashabhujadharini (the one possessed of ten arms) pushes Him down with Her feet and drives the spear end of Her trishoola (trident) into Him. Helplessly, the proud Mahishasura looks up at the feminine victor.
The work of art that you see on this page is a pattachitra of the Mahishasuramardini from Orissa. ‘Mardini’ is the Sanskrt word for slayeress, while the prefix ‘Mahisha’ means buffalo. This roopa (form) of the Devi is deeply worshipped in the Eastern Delta region, of which pattachitra is a traditional folk art form.
The sheer level of detail in this pattachitra makes this a collector’s item: from the embroidery of Mahishasuramardini’s saree to the miniscule motifs across the background. A superbly detailed temple entrance structure, complete with pillars and archway and templetop, frames the central ensemble. A powerful, lifelike composure characterises each countenance in this painting.
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